Articles Posted in U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals

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Plaintiff filed suit against Progressive for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA),15 U.s.C. 1692 et seq., as well as violations of Texas state law. The district court dismissed the suit for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on the ground that Progressive's unaccepted offer of judgment rendered plaintiff's claims moot. The court concluded, however, that Progressive's incomplete offer of judgment did not render plaintiff's FDCPA claims moot. Under the FDCPA, an individual claimant was eligible to recover actual damages under section 1692k(a)(1). Plaintiff requested actual damages. Progressive's Rule 68 offer of judgment did not offer to meet plaintiff's full demand for relief because it did not include actual damages. Therefore, Progressive's offer left a live controversy for the court to resolve, plaintiff maintained a personal stake in the outcome of the action, and the offer did not render plaintiff's FDCPA claims moot. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Payne v. Progressive Fin. Serv., Inc." on Justia Law

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Serna defaulted on a loan he obtained through the Internet that was subsequently purchased by Samara. Attorney Onwuteaka, who owns Samara, obtained a default judgment and attempted to collect. Serna then filed suit in federal court, alleging that because he neither resided nor entered the loan agreement in Harris County where the judgment entered, the suit violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. 1692, venue requirement. A magistrate found Serna’s suit was untimely under the FDCPA’s one-year limitations period because he filed his complaint more than one year after Onwuteaka filed his petition in the underlying debt-collection action. The Fifth Circuit reversed, that the alleged FDCPA violation arose only after Serna received notice of the underlying debt collection action. The FDCPA provides that a debtor may bring an action “within one year from the date on which the violation occurs.” A violation of does not occur until the debt-collection suit is filed and the alleged debtor is notified of the suit. View "Serna v. Law Office of Joseph Onwuteaka" on Justia Law

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This case involved the foreclosure sale of certain property owned by plaintiffs. Plaintiffs appealed the district court's dismissal with prejudice of their claims against BAC and NDE under the Texas Debt Collection Act (TDCA), Tex. Fin. Code 392.304(a), the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA), Tex. Bus. & Com. Code 17.41 et seq., and Texas common law. The court concluded that plaintiffs have alleged sufficient facts to state a claim against BAC for misrepresenting the status or nature of the services that it rendered. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's dismissal of the TDCA claims under section 392.304(a)(14) as to that basis, remanding for further proceedings. Consequently, the court also reversed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' request for an accounting from NDE. The court affirmed in all other respects. View "Miller, et al. v. BAC Home Loans Servicing, L.P., et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, seeking damages and declaratory relief, brought a diversity action against two national banking associations, alleging violations of Louisiana consumer protection law in connection with a mortgage foreclosure proceeding. The district court dismissed the action in part pursuant to the Rooker-Feldman doctrine and in part for failure to state a claim of a statutory exemption under Louisiana law. The court concluded that the district court had jurisdiction to hear plaintiff's claims, which were "independent claims" for Rooker-Feldman purposes. However, plaintiff's complaint must be dismissed nonetheless for failure to state a claim where the Louisiana consumer protection law did not provide plaintiff with an avenue of relief because both banks were exempt and where plaintiff had not disputed that her declaratory judgment could be dismissed under Louisiana's preclusion principles. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Truong v. Bank of America, N.A., et al" on Justia Law

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This appeal involved claims under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), 15 U.S.C. 1681 et seq. Santander, a consumer finance company, was found by a jury to have negligently failed to comply with the law by promptly investigating plaintiff's credit dispute with Santander and to correct the information Santander misreported to a credit agency. On appeal, Santander contended that plaintiff did not offer legally sufficient evidence of his various claimed items of damage; plaintiff failed to mitigate his damages; and the district court improperly admitted letters from third parties to plaintiff. The court found no reversible error and affirmed the judgment. View "Smith v. Santander Consumer USA, Inc." on Justia Law

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Defendants, manufacturers and distributors of liquid crystal display (LCD) panels, jointly removed this case to federal district court on the grounds that (1) the action was a class action under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), 28 U.S.C. 1332(d)(1)(B), or (2) the action was a mass action under the CAFA. The State moved to remand the case to state court and the district court granted the motion. Because it was undisputed that there were more than 100 consumers, the court found that there were more than 100 claims at issue in this case. Further, no disqualifying exceptions to the term "mass action" was applicable. Consequently, the suit qualified as a mass action under the CAFA and the court found removal to be proper. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "State of Mississippi v. AU Optronics Corp., et al" on Justia Law

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This case involved an interlocutory appeal from an order granting plaintiffs' motion for class certification where the certified class putatively consisted of various governmental entities within the State of Louisiana whose representatives entered into contracts with defendants for cellular telephone service. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants engaged in deceptive billing practices that constituted a breach of contract and violated the state's unfair trade and consumer protection laws. The court agreed with defendants that the district court abused its discretion when it certified plaintiffs' class because, in doing so, it effectively certified an "opt in" class, which was impermissible under Rule 23. Accordingly, the court reversed and vacated, remanding for further proceedings. View "Ackal, et al v. Centennial Beauregard Cellular, et al" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs brought a class action suit under section 4 of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. 15, against the largest United States casket manufacturer, Batesville; and against the three largest United States funeral home chains and distributors of Batesville caskets. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants conspired to foreclose competition from independent casket discounters (ICDs) who sold caskets directly to consumers at discount prices and maintained artificially high consumer casket prices in violation of sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. 1, 2, by engaging in a group boycott to prevent ICDs from selling Batesville caskets and dissuading consumers from purchasing caskets from ICDs. Plaintiffs also alleged that defendants used concerted efforts to restrict casket price competition, including coordinating prices, limiting the advertisement of pricing, and engaging in sham discounting. The court reversed and remanded the district court's dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction of the claim for attorneys' fees and costs; affirmed the district court's dismissal of Consumer Appellants' and FCA's injunctive relief claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction; and affirmed the district court's denial of class certification. View "Funeral Consumers Alliance Inc, et al v. Service Corp. Intl, et al" on Justia Law

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An individual owing a debt sued a debt collection agency. The suit alleged the agency's debt-collection letter violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. 1692, by contradicting and overshadowing the statutory notices in the letter. The standard for evaluating any potential deception in the letter was whether an unsophisticated or least sophisticated consumer would be confused by the letter. The district court concluded that the letter did not violate the statute. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the debt collection agency's letter was not inconsistent with and did not overshadow the letter's Section 1692g(a)'s notice; and (2) therefore, a least-sophisticated or unsophisticated consumer would not be confused by the letter. View "McMurray v. ProCollect, Inc." on Justia Law

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BAC Home Loans Servicing, LP (formerly known as Countrywide Home Loans Servicing, LP); Countrywide Home Loans of Texas, Incorporated; and Countrywide Home Loans, Incorporated appealed an order for remand where the district court dismissed the lone federal claim under the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), 15 U.S.C. 1601-1667f, and declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state law claims. Defendants argued that this was an abuse of discretion because Countrywide Home Loans of Texas was improperly joined and thus the district court had diversity jurisdiction over the state law claims. Plaintiffs argued that there was no improper joinder and that defendants waived any right to argue improper joinder or the existence of diversity jurisdiction when they failed to remove the action to federal court within 30 days of service of the original complaint that listed Countrywide Home Loans of Texas. The court held that defendants carried their burden of proving improper joinder; the district court had jurisdiction over the state law claims at the time of remand; and the exercise of that jurisdiction was mandatory. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's decision to remand the state law claims to Texas state court and remanded for further proceedings.