Justia Consumer Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals
FTC v. Ross
The FTC filed suit against defendant for engaging in deceptive internet advertising practices involving the use of a "scareware" scheme that tricked consumers into purchasing computer security software. On appeal, defendant challenged the district court's judgment enjoining her from participating in the deceptive practices and holding her jointly and severally liable for equitable monetary consumer redress. The court concluded that the district court had sufficient statutory power to award "complete relief," including monetary consumer redress, which is a form of equitable relief; the court held that one may be found individually liable under the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C. 41 et seq., if she (1) participated directly in the deceptive practices or had authority to control those practices, and (2) had or should have had knowledge of the deceptive practices; the court rejected defendant's evidentiary challenges; the district court did not clearly err in finding that defendant had authority to control the deceptive acts within the meaning of the Act nor did the district court clearly err in finding that defendant directly participated in the deceptive marketing scheme; and the district court did not clearly err in finding that defendant had actual knowledge of the deceptive marketing scheme and/or that she was at the very least recklessly indifferent or intentionally avoided the truth. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "FTC v. Ross" on Justia Law
Clark v. Absolute Collection Servs.
Plaintiffs filed a putative class action against ACS, alleging that ACS's collection notice violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. 1692 et seq. Plaintiffs argued that ACS's collection notice violated section 1692g(a)(3) by stating that debtors only could dispute the validity of their debt in writing. ACS argued that the collection notice complied with the FDCPA because section 1692g(a)(3) contained an inherent writing requirement. The court found, however, that section 1692g(a)(3) permitted consumers to dispute the validity of a debt orally, and it did not impose a writing requirement. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's grant of ACS's motion to dismiss. View "Clark v. Absolute Collection Servs." on Justia Law
Quicken Loans Inc. v. Alig
Plaintiffs filed suit in state court alleging that Quicken Loans originated unlawful loans in West Virginia and that Defendant Appraisers, which included both the named appraisers and the unnamed class of appraisers, were complicit in the scheme. Quicken Loans removed to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), 28 U.S.C. 1332(d). The district court then granted plaintiffs' motion to remand to state court under the local controversy exception. Quicken Loans appealed. The court vacated and remanded for a determination by the district court as to whether the named defendant appraisers satisfied the "at least 1 defendant" requirement of the local controversy exception. View "Quicken Loans Inc. v. Alig" on Justia Law
Seney v. Rent-a-Center, Inc.
Plaintiffs filed suit against RAC after entering into a rental agreement with RAC for a wooden trundle bed and mattress infested with bedbugs. On appeal, plaintiffs challenged the district court's order compelling arbitration of their breach of warranty claim under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, 15 U.S.C. 2301 et seq. Relying on regulation promulgated by the FTC under its authority to interpret the Act, plaintiffs argued that RAC could not require binding arbitration as part of a consumer warranty. The court concluded that the district court erred in holding that the FTC regulations contained no ban on binding arbitration. However, the FTC arbitration ban simply did not apply to plaintiffs' rental agreement with RAC. Because plaintiffs have not linked RAC's warranty to any sale, they failed to establish the existence of a written warranty under FTC regulations. Accordingly, the binding arbitration clause was enforceable and the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Seney v. Rent-a-Center, Inc." on Justia Law
The Country Vintner v. E & J Gallo Winery
Country Vintner sued Gallo, under North Carolina law over the wholesale distribution of an Argentinian wine. At issue on appeal was what expenses related to electronically stored information (ESI) were taxable under the federal taxation-of-costs statute, 28 U.S.C. 1920(4). The district court entered an order taxing only the costs of converting electronic files to non-editable formats, and transferring files onto CDs. The court agreed with the district court's finding that only the conversion of native files to TIFF and PDF formats, and the transfers of files onto CDs, constituted "making copies" under section 1920(f), and that none of Gallo's expenses constituted fees for exemplification. View "The Country Vintner v. E & J Gallo Winery" on Justia Law
Spaulding v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.
Plaintiffs filed suit against Wells Fargo after plaintiffs' application for a mortgage modification under the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) was denied. The district court concluded that plaintiffs had failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted and therefore granted Wells Fargo's motion to dismiss. The court concluded that plaintiffs have not plausibly stated a breach of contract claim; plaintiffs' negligence claim failed because there was no express or implied contract and therefore, no tort duty could arise as a matter of law; plaintiffs' Maryland Consumer Protection Act, Md. Code Ann., Com. Law 13-301(1), claim failed because Wells Fargo did not make misrepresentations when it stated that it needed more information to process plaintiffs' HAMP application; and the district court court properly dismissed the negligent misrepresentation and common law fraud claim. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Spaulding v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A." on Justia Law
Rota-McLarty v. Santander Consumer USA, Inc.
This case arose when plaintiff filed a putative class action in state court against Santander alleging violations of various Maryland consumer protection laws for undisclosed finance charges and other unfair business practices. Santander subsequently appealed from the district court's order denying its motion to compel arbitration and stay court proceedings of plaintiff's claims against it. While finding that an enforceable arbitration agreement encompassing plaintiff's claims existed, the district court nevertheless concluded that Santander had waived its rights to enforce arbitration by its delay. The court concluded that the record did not support the district court's finding of waiver. Therefore, the court reversed and remanded with directions to defer the claims to arbitration. View "Rota-McLarty v. Santander Consumer USA, Inc." on Justia Law
Ellis v. Louisiana-Pacific Corp.
Plaintiffs appealed the district court's order dismissing their putative class action complaint, claiming that LP negligently designed and manufactured Trimboard, a composite building product designed and marketed for use as exterior trim around windows and doors, and violated the provisions of the North Carolina Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act (UDTPA), N.C. Gen. Stat. 75-1.1 et seq. The court held that the district court did not err in deciding that plaintiffs' negligence claims were barred by North Carolina's economic loss rule (ELR); the district court properly dismissed the UDTPA claim; and the district court properly dismissed the declaratory judgment claim. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Ellis v. Louisiana-Pacific Corp." on Justia Law
Delebreau v. Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC
In this purported class action on behalf of borrowers holding home mortgage loans serviced by Bayview, plaintiffs claimed that Bayview improperly added fees to borrowers' accounts in violation of the West Virginia Consumer Credit Protection Act, W. Va. Code 46A-1-101 through 46A-8-102. At issue was whether, under the statute of limitations, "the due date of the last scheduled payment of the agreement" was June 5, 2007, the loan acceleration date set by Bayview. The court concluded that the acceleration date was the operative date for purposes of applying the statute of limitations, because no further payments were scheduled after that date. Thus, the court affirmed the district court's judgment that the statute of limitations began to run from the acceleration date, and that, therefore, plaintiffs' claims were time barred. View "Delebreau v. Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC" on Justia Law
Gilbert, Jr., et al. v. Residential Funding LLC, et al.
Plaintiffs appealed the district court's dismissal of their claim that Deutsche and others violated various consumer protection laws in connection with a mortgage plaintiffs secured on their home. Plaintiffs alleged that they were entitled to relief on account of violations of the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), 15 U.S.C. 1601-1667(f), and its implementing regulation, Regulation Z, 12 C.F.R. 1026; North Carolina usury law, N.C. Gen. State 24; the North Carolina Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act (NCUDTPA), N.C. Gen. Stat. 75-1; and North Carolina's Prohibited Acts by Debt Collectors statute, N.C. Gen. Stat. 75-50. Plaintiffs also claimed a breach of contract and that Deutsche lacked the authority to enforce the loan. The court held that plaintiffs' TILA claim was not time-barred; plaintiffs adequately pled the elements of their usury claim and the claim was ripe for adjudication; similarly, plaintiffs' NCUDTPA claims should also be allowed to proceed; res judicata no longer barred plaintiffs from litigating whether Deutsche had authority to enforce the note; and plaintiff's contention that the district court erred in denying their motion to alter or amend pursuant to Rule 59(e) was moot. View "Gilbert, Jr., et al. v. Residential Funding LLC, et al." on Justia Law