Justia Consumer Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals
Fuges v. SW Fin. Serv., Ltd.
Southwest sells title reports to consumer lenders, containing information available in public records. Southwest’s reports include the owner’s name and address, marital status, and amounts of outstanding mortgages, liens or judgments against the property. Reports do not include social security numbers, payment history, previous addresses, employment information, birthdate, or outstanding account balances, as would typically appear in a credit report prepared by credit reporting agencies. Unlike a credit reporting company, Southwest endeavors to include only unsatisfied liens encumbering the property. Fuges had a $35,000 line of credit from PNC, secured by her home. In 2008, she applied for payment protection insurance; PNC ordered a credit report from a credit reporting agency and a property report from Southwest, which was arguably inaccurate concerning tax delinquency and a judgment lien. PNC initially denied her application, but later granted her request. Fuges filed a putative class action against Southwest, alleging violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. 1681-1681x. The district court dismissed many claims because she had not taken actions required by FCRA, then entered summary judgment for Southwest, reasoning that no reasonable jury could find willful violation of FCRA, because Southwest reasonably interpreted the statute as inapplicable. The Third Circuit affirmed. View "Fuges v. SW Fin. Serv., Ltd." on Justia Law
Glover v. Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp.
In 2002 Glover entered into a mortgage with WaMu. After being injured Glover fell behind on her mortgage in 2005 and requested a work-out agreement to reduce her payments. WaMu initially threatened to foreclose, but subsequently agreed to postpone her payments until the request had been evaluated. Eventually, WaMu denied the request. Murray, an attorney with Udren Law Offices, called Glover and informed her that she owed WaMu missed payments, attorney’s fees and costs, totaling $3,397.28. WaMu then filed a foreclosure complaint. After communications between Glover and WaMu‘s assignee, Wells Fargo, Glover entered into a loan modification agreement with Wells Fargo. Glover filed a putative class-action against WaMu, Wells Fargo, and the Udren firm, alleging violations of the Pennsylvania Fair Credit Extension Uniformity Act, premised on violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. 1692. The district court dismissed. The Third Circuit affirmed. An FDCPA claim was not timely because Glover’s amended pleadings did not provide the fair notice required for relatation back to her original filing View "Glover v. Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp." on Justia Law
McNair v. Synapse Grp., Inc
Synapse provides customers with promotional rate or free magazine subscriptions, obtains their credit card information, and, when the promotion expires, provides notice, then bills a subscription to the credit card, if the customer does not cancel. Former customers claimed that the automatic renewal notices amounted to a deceptive business practice. The district court denied certification of a Rule 23(b)(2) injunctive relief class. The Third Circuit affirmed. None of the plaintiffs are current Synapse customers, so they lack standing to seek the remedy they are pursuing on behalf of the class. View "McNair v. Synapse Grp., Inc" on Justia Law
Long v. Tommy Hilfiger U.S.A., Inc.
The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, 15 U.S.C. 1681, provides that merchants who accept credit or debit cards shall not print the expiration date of the cards upon any receipt provided to the cardholder at the point of the sale. The district court found no willful violation where a retailer printed the expiration month, but not the year, of the credit card on a receipt. The Third Circuit affirmed, finding that the retailer's interpretation of the law was erroneous, but not objectively unreasonable. View "Long v. Tommy Hilfiger U.S.A., Inc." on Justia Law
NJ Retail Merch. Assoc. v. Sidamon-Eristoff
Merchants challenged 2010 N.J. Laws Chapter 25, amending the unclaimed property statute, N.J. Stat. 46:30B, to provide for escheat of stored value cards (gift cards). Chapter 25 presumes cards to be abandoned after two years of inactivity and requires issuers to transfer remaining value to the state. Issuers must obtain name and address of the purchaser or owner of each card. If the issuer's state exempts cards from its unclaimed property statute, unredeemed balances of cards previously-issued in New Jersey, where information was not recorded, must be reported to New Jersey. The address where the card issued or sold is presumed to be the owner's domicile. The district court enjoined retroactive application of Chapter 25 and prospective enforcement of the place-of-purchase presumption, but declined to enjoin data collection and two-year abandonment provisions. The Third Circuit affirmed. Chapter 25 substantially impaired contractual relationships by imposing unexpected obligations and did not reasonably accommodate the rights of the parties in light of the public purpose. The abandonment period is not preempted by the Credit CARD Act, 15 U.S.C. 1693l-1(c). The place-of-purchase presumption is preempted by federal common law, under which the first opportunity to escheat belongs to the state of the last known address of the creditor, shown by the debtor's records. If the primary rule does not apply, the right to escheat is with the state in which the debtor is incorporated. View "NJ Retail Merch. Assoc. v. Sidamon-Eristoff" on Justia Law
Sullivan v. DB Inv., Inc.
Plaintiffs alleged that De Beers coordinated worldwide sales of diamonds by executing agreements with competitors, setting production limits, restricting resale within regions, and directing marketing, and was able to control quantity and prices by regimenting sales to preferred wholesalers. Plaintiffs claimed violations of antitrust, consumer protection, and unjust enrichment laws, and unfair business practices and false advertising. De Beers initially refused to appear, asserting lack of personal jurisdiction, but entered into a settlement with indirect purchasers that included a stipulated injunction. De Beers agreed to jurisdiction for the purpose of fulfilling terms of the settlement and enforcement of the injunction. The district court entered an order, approving the settlement and certifying a class of Indirect Purchasers in order to distribute the settlement fund and enforce the injunction. De Beers then entered into an agreement with direct purchasers that paralleled the Indirect Purchaser Settlement. The Third Circuit remanded the certification of two nationwide settlement classes as inconsistent with the predominance inquiry mandated by FRCP 23(b)(3), but, on rehearing, vacated its order. The court then affirmed the class certifications, rejecting a claim that the court was required to ensure that each class member possesses a colorable legal claim. The settlement was fair, reasonable, and adequate. View "Sullivan v. DB Inv., Inc." on Justia Law
Reilly v. Ceridian Corp.
Defendant is a payroll processing firm that collects information about its customers' employees, which may include names, addresses, social security numbers, dates of birth, and bank account information. In 2009, defendant suffered a security breach. It is not known whether the hacker read, copied, or understood the data. Defendant sent letters to the potential identity theft victims and arranged to provide the potentially affected individuals with one year of free credit monitoring and identity theft protection. Plaintiffs, employees of a former customer filed a class action, which was dismissed for lack of standing and failure to state a claim. The Third Circuit affirmed. Allegations of hypothetical, future injury do not establish standing under the "actual case of controversy" requirement of Article III. View "Reilly v. Ceridian Corp." on Justia Law
SimmsParris v. Countrywide Fin. Corp,
Defendant-lender reported to credit agencies that two of plaintiff's mortgage payments were received late. Plaintiff, an attorney, filed suit under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. 1681 and alleging defamation, false light invasion of privacy, breach of contract, negligence, negligent supervision, conversion, and fraud. The district court entered summary judgment for the lender. The Third Circuit affirmed. A private litigant seeking to recover against a furnisher of information under the FCRA must first make a complaint to a consumer reporting agency; plaintiff did not comply with the structural framework of the statute.
Lesher v. Law Offices of Mitchell N. Kay
After receiving two letters from the law firm, the plaintiff filed suit claiming that the firm violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. 1692e, by misleading him to believe that an attorney was involved in collecting his debt, and that the attorney could, and would, take legal action against him. The district court entered summary judgment in favor of plaintiff. The Third Circuit affirmed, finding that the "least sophisticated debtor" could conclude that an attorney, acting as an attorney, had reviewed his account and determined that he was a candidate for legal action. Disclaimers on the backs of the letters did not clarify that the firm was acting solely as a debt collector.
Huertas v. Galaxy Asset Mgmt.
The district court dismissed a pro se debtor's claims against creditors, a collection firm, and credit reporting agencies, holding that expiration of the limitations period on the original debt did not prohibit assignment of or attempt to collect the debt, which had not been extinguished by bankruptcy. The Third Circuit affirmed. Although the debt is unenforceable under state law, it was not extinguished; the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. 1692e, does not prohibit attempts to obtain voluntary payment. Communications did not include any threat to litigate and did not amount to fraud. Nor did the collection agency violate the Act by obtaining a credit report or violate RICO by any of its actions.