Justia Consumer Law Opinion Summaries

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Sun made news ink at its East Rutherford facility and purchased a dust-collection system that included a Fike suppression system to contain explosions in case of a fire in the collection system. On the first day the system was fully operational, the dust-collection system caught fire. The suppression system activated an alarm that workers did not hear. After workers saw flames and extinguished the fire, an explosion sent flames out of the dust-collector system’s ducts, severely injuring several Sun employees and causing significant property damage. The ensuing government investigations caused Sun to end production at the facility.Sun sued Fike under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act (CFA), N.J. Stat. 56:8-1, alleging that Fike misrepresented that: the suppression-system alarm would be audible and would comply with a specific industry standard; Fike would provide training to Sun employees; the suppression system had never experienced failures in the field; and the system was capable of preventing an explosion from entering the facility. The Third Circuit certified an issue to the New Jersey Supreme Court, then, consistent with the response, held that some of Sun’s CFA claims are absorbed and precluded by the New Jersey Products Liability Act, N.J. Stat. 2A:58C-1, and some are not. As to Sun’s remaining CFA claims, the court concluded that Sun demonstrated a genuine issue of material fact and remanded for further proceedings. View "Sun Chemical Corp v. Fike Corp" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the order of the district court granting Defendants' motions to compel Plaintiff's claims to the arbitration process, holding that Defendants had the authority to enforce the arbitration provision.Jackeline Barbosa carried an overdue, unpaid balance on her credit card account. The unpaid balance was sold to Midland Funding LLC. The rights to Barbosa's account were assigned to Midland Credit Management, Inc. (MCM) Schreiber/Cohen, LLC was the law firm retained by MCM on behalf of Midland Funding to assist in MCM's debt collection efforts. Barbosa sued MCM and Schreiber/Cohen, claiming violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. 1692e and 1692f by the attempt to collect the credit card debt in Massachusetts state court after the statute of limitations for the collection action had expired. MCM and Shreiber/Cohen asked the district court to compel arbitration pursuant to the arbitration election provision in Barbosa's credit card agreement. The district court dismissed Barbosa's claims. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court properly concluded that MCM and Schreiber/Cohen were authorized to compel Barbosa to arbitrate her claims against them. View "Barbosa v. Midland Credit Management, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants in an action brought by plaintiff under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Plaintiff alleged that P&F violated the FDCPA by attempting to collect a debt that was no longer owed and that P&F's agent, AAS, violated the FDCPA in attempting to collect the debt.Walls v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 276 F.3d 502 (9th Cir. 2002), precludes claims under the FDCPA. The panel held that Walls does not extend to this circumstance because plaintiff's FDCPA claims are based on the wholly independent ground of full payment, rather than being premised on a violation of the discharge order. View "Manikan v. Peters & Freedman, LLP" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court made permanent a preliminary writ of mandamus sought by Vacation Management Solutions, LLC (VMS) to prevent the circuit court from moving forward with Kyle Klosterman's case in the City of St. Louis, holding that the action must be transferred pursuant to Mo. R. Civ. P. 51.045(c).Klosterman filed an action against VMS in the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis alleging violations of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act. VMS filed both a motion to dismiss and a motion to transfer venue, arguing that the City of St. Louis was an improper venue and that venue was proper in either Warren County or in St. Charles County. The circuit court overruled the motion to dismiss. Thereafter, VMS filed a petition for a writ of prohibition. The Supreme Court granted the writ, holding that because Klosterman did not reply within thirty days to VMS's motion to transfer alleging improper venue, the circuit court was required to transfer the case to Warren County or St. Charles County. View "State ex rel. Vacation Management Solutions, LLC v. Honorable Joan L. Moriarty" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied Defendants' petition for a writ of prohibition prohibiting the circuit court from enforcing its order permitting the Attorney General to amend a complaint and granting the Attorney General's motion to sever the counts in the complaint for discovery and trial, holding that the circuit court did not err as a matter of law or exceed its legitimate powers.The order at issue permitted the parties to conduct discovery regarding whether the discovery rule tolled the statute of limitation on the Attorney General's claim that Defendants violated the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act (CCPA) and allowed the parties to discover and present evidence on whether Defendants committed multiple violations of the CCPA such that the circuit court might consider imposing multiple penalties. The Supreme Court denied Defendants' petition for a writ of prohibition, holding that the circuit court had jurisdiction and did not exceed its legitimate powers. View "State, ex rel. 3M Co. v. Hoke" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court considered a question certified by the circuit court and answered that the deceptive trade practices provisions of the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act (the Act), W. Va. Code 46A-6-101 to -106, do not apply to educational and recreational services offered by a religious institution.The Attorney General sued the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston and Michael Bransfield, in his capacity as former bishop of the Diocese, alleging (1) the Diocese knowingly employed persons who admitted to sexually abusing others or who were credibly accused of sexual abuse at its camps and schools, and (2) by misrepresenting or hiding that danger, the Diocese violated the deceptive practices provisions of the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act. The circuit court dismissed the Attorney General's claims but stayed its order and certified a question of law to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court answered the question in the negative, holding that the deceptive practices provisions of the Act do not apply to educational and recreational services offered by a religious institution. View "State ex rel. Morrisey v. Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit filed: (1) an order granting a request for publication, withdrawing the mandate, withdrawing a memorandum disposition, and replacing the memorandum disposition with an opinion; and (2) an opinion reversing the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendant debt collector in an action under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and remanding for further proceedings.The panel agreed with the Eleventh Circuit and held that the FDCPA's bona fide error defense does not allow debt collectors to avoid liability by contractually obligating creditor-clients to provide accurate information, nor by requesting that creditor-clients provide notice of any errors in the accounts assigned for collection without waiting to receive a response before instituting collection efforts. Accordingly, the panel reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for NBF concluding that NBF was entitled to the defense because it employed a procedure reasonably adapted to avoid errors of the type that occurred in plaintiff's case. Rather, the panel concluded that the two procedures NBF relied upon did little more than evidence an attempt to outsource the duties the FDCPA imposes upon debt collectors. View "Urbina v. National Business Factors Inc." on Justia Law

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After plaintiff filed suit under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, commonly known as the "lemon law," the jury awarded her the full purchase price of her defective vehicle, offset by mileage accrued before she first delivered it for repair, plus incidental and consequential damages and a civil penalty. The trial court subsequently denied defendant's motion to reduce plaintiff's damages by the credit she received towards the purchase price of a new vehicle when she traded in her defective vehicle to a GMC dealer.As a matter of first impression, the Court of Appeal held that the Act's restitution remedy, set at "an amount equal to the actual price paid or payable" for the vehicle, does not include amounts a plaintiff has already recovered by trading in the vehicle at issue. The court stated that the Legislature chose to call the Act's refund remedy "restitution," indicating an intent to restore a plaintiff to the financial position in which she would have been had she not purchased the vehicle. Therefore, granting plaintiff a full refund from defendant in addition to the proceeds of the trade-in would put her in a better position than had she never purchased the vehicle, a result inconsistent with "restitution." The court also held that allowing plaintiff a full refund also would undercut other parts of the Act. Therefore, the court reduced the damage award to reflect the value of plaintiff's trade-in and reduced the civil penalty. The court affirmed the judgment as modified. View "Niedermeier v. FCA US LLC" on Justia Law

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In this lawsuit brought against Johnson & Johnson, Inc. and other entities (collectively, Defendants) alleging state tort claims due to injuries caused by a Class III medical device the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court granting Defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings based on federal preemption of all claims, holding that, under Kentucky's notice pleading standards, the motion for judgment on the pleadings should have been denied.In their complaint, Plaintiffs asserted claims for, inter alia, strict liability negligence, and lack of informed consent. Defendants moved for judgment on the pleadings based on federal preemption of all claims. The trial court granted the motion and dismissed all of Plaintiffs' claims. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, under Kentucky's notice pleading standard, Plaintiffs' complaint sufficiently put Defendants on notice of parallel claims under Kentucky law that may not be preempted. View "Russell v. Johnson & Johnson Inc." on Justia Law

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Birmingham law firm Campbell Law, P.C., represented consumers in legal proceedings against pest-control companies, including The Terminix International Co., LP, and Terminix International, Inc. (collectively referred to as "Terminix"). After Campbell Law initiated arbitration proceedings against Terminix and Matthew Cunningham, a Terminix branch manager, on behalf of owners in the Bay Forest condominium complex ("Bay Forest") in Daphne, Terminix and Cunningham asked the circuit court to disqualify Campbell Law from the proceedings because it had retained a former manager of Terminix's Baldwin County office as an investigator and consultant. The trial court denied the motion to disqualify. Terminix and Cunningham petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus, arguing that the Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct required Campbell Law's disqualification. In support of their petition, Terminix argued the investigator/consultant possessed privileged and confidential information related to disputes between Terminix and parties represented by the law firm, and that Campbell Law violated the Rules of Professional Conduct. The Supreme Court concluded the petitioners did not demonstrate Campbell Law violated the Rules, thus did not establish they had a clear legal right to mandamus relief. The petition was denied. View "Ex parte The Terminix International Co., LP, et al." on Justia Law