Justia Consumer Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
Zean v. Fairview Health Services
Plaintiff filed suit against Fairview, alleging that the company made unauthorized telemarketing calls in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), 47 U.S.C. 227. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of Fairview's motion to dismiss, holding that whether consent is an affirmative defense is irrelevant to the Rule 12(b)(6) inquiry; the exhibits at issue were documents embraced by the pleadings that may be considered by the court; the district court did not commit plain error in concluding that the documents were properly authenticated documents reflecting an aspect of the parties' contractual relationship; given the contractual relationship alleged in the complaint, the district court did not err in considering the documents as reflecting plaintiff's pre-purchase consent; and Fairview's telemarketing calls were within the scope of the consent established. View "Zean v. Fairview Health Services" on Justia Law
May v. Nationstar Mortgage, LLC
Jeannie K. May filed suit seeking to recover damages under state and federal law arising from the debt-collection practices of Nationstar. After a jury found in favor of May on her invasion-of-privacy claim and her claim that Nationstar negligently violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), 15 U.S.C. 1681, the jury awarded May compensatory damages on both claims and punitive damages on her invasion-of-privacy claim. The court concluded that there was ample evidence to support the jury's award of punitive damages and Nationstar's renewed assertions that it acted in good faith provided no legal basis to vacate the jury's verdict. In this case, the record reflected that May contacted Nationstar repeatedly in order to resolve the issue with her account; rather than suspend its efforts based on its erroneous assessment of her debt, Nationstar aggressively pursued collection, posted May's home for foreclosure and conducted inspections of her residence; Nationstar employees spoke to May in a mocking and sarcastic manner; and May suffered physical ailments from the stress caused by Nationstar's conduct. The court concluded that the $400,000 punitive damages award was not unconstitutionally excessive because of the reprehensible nature of Nationstar's conduct; the 8-to-1 ratio of the award was not unconstitutionally excessive; and the award did not violate due process. The court also concluded that the district court did not err by excluding the testimony of another borrower; and the jury instruction regarding the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), 26 U.S.C. 2601, was not plainly erroneous. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "May v. Nationstar Mortgage, LLC" on Justia Law
Sciaroni v. Target Corp.
These consolidated appeals stem from a class action suit against Target after the retailer announced a security breach by third-party intruders that compromised the payment card data and personal information of millions of customers. Class member Leif Olson challenges the class certification for lack of adequate representation due to an alleged intraclass conflict; class member Jim Sciaroni challenges the district court’s approval of the settlement agreement; and both challenge the district court’s order requiring them to post a bond of $49,156 to cover the costs of this appeal. The court held that the district court abused its discretion by failing to rigorously analyze the propriety of certification, especially once new arguments challenging the adequacy of representation were raised after preliminary certification. Therefore, the court remanded for the district court to conduct and articulate a rigorous analysis of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a)'s certification prerequisites as applied to this case. The court also concluded that costs associated with delays in administering a class action settlement for the length of a class member’s appeal may not be included in an appeal bond under Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 7. Therefore, the court reversed and remanded for the district court to reduce the Rule 7 bond to reflect only those costs that Appellees will recover should they succeed in any issues remaining on appeal following the district court’s reconsideration of class certification. View "Sciaroni v. Target Corp." on Justia Law
Dunn v. Bank of America N.A.
Plaintiffs filed suit against Bank of America, alleging that Bank of America failed to provide necessary disclosures in violation of the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), 15 U.S.C. 1601 et seq. The district court agreed with defendants that the loan at issue was a residential mortgage transaction to which section 1635(a) did not apply. Therefore, the notice of rescission plaintiffs sent to Bank of America in February 2011 could not cancel the loan or provide a basis for wrongful foreclosure and quiet title actions. The district court determined that even if defendants had been required to provide disclosures under the TILA, any claim for damages would have been barred by its one-year statute of limitations. The court concluded that, based on the plain language of the statute, a residential mortgage transaction is not entitled to the right of rescission under section 1635(a). The court rejected plaintiffs' remaining claims and affirmed the judgment. View "Dunn v. Bank of America N.A." on Justia Law
Kuntz v. Rodenburg LLP
Plaintiff filed suit against Rodenburg, a debt collection law firm, alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. 1692d-f. The court concluded that Rodenburg reasonably believed that plaintiff had not provided a complete response to his prior communication with defendant and thus section 1692(b)(3) permitted a call back. The court agreed with the district court that it was objectively reasonable for Rodenburg to believe that plaintiff, as the parent, had or could obtain location information about his daughter, Alexis, permitting a follow-up call to learn if he had acquired or was now willing to provide “correct or complete location information.” The court also agreed with the district court that there is no material factual dispute as to the section 1692d(5) claim because Rodenburg’s conduct did not rise to the level of harassment as a matter of law. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Kuntz v. Rodenburg LLP" on Justia Law
Haney v. Portfolio Recovery Assoc.
Plaintiff filed suit against PRA, a debt collector, and its attorneys, Gamache, under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. 1692 et seq. The district court granted defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c). The court concluded that nothing inherent in the process of charging off a debt precludes a claim for statutory interest, and Missouri’s prejudgment interest statute does not expressly preclude statutory prejudgment interest following a waiver of contractual interest. Therefore, defendants' demands for such interest were not actionable misrepresentations or unfair or unconscionable collection methods under sections 1692e or 1692f. Because the court held that the original creditors’ acts of charging off the debts did not effectuate waivers of statutory interest, the assignments of the debt to PRA did not “create” the entitlement to statutory prejudgment interest. The court concluded that the assignments merely transferred any entitlement to such interest that otherwise existed. The court further concluded that any demand requirement that exists as a precondition to the accrual of statutory prejudgment interest was satisfied by the original creditors’ demands upon plaintiff. The court held that there exists no de minimis exception to FDCPA liability based upon low dollar amounts; and debt collectors’ false representations about the availability of remedies or amounts owed under state law, like representations of fact, are to be viewed through the unsophisticated-consumer standard and may be actionable pursuant to the FDCPA. Applying these holdings to the present case, the court concluded that plaintiff has articulated viable section 1692e and 1692f(1) claims by alleging false statements and collection attempts regarding the availability of compound interest. Accordingly, the court reversed as to these claims, rejected plaintiff's remaining claims, and affirmed in all other respects. View "Haney v. Portfolio Recovery Assoc." on Justia Law
Galloway v. The Kansas City Landsmen, LLC
Plaintiffs filed suit alleging that 21 Budget rental car businesses willfully violated the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA), 15 U.S.C. 1681c(g)(1), by issuing receipts that contained more than five digits of customers’ credit card numbers. The parties subsequently mediated and agreed on a proposed settlement. The settlement provided that each class member would receive a certificate worth $10 off any car rental or $30 off a rental over $150, with no holiday blackout days. Applying the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), 28 U.S.C. 1712(a)-(c), the district court awarded $23,137.46 in attorneys’ fees and costs, and a $1,000 class representative incentive fee. Plaintiffs appealed. The court concluded that the district court erred by following the In re HP Inkjet Printer Litig. mandatory approach in applying section 1712(a)-(c) without explicitly stating that the award was based on an exercise of the district court’s discretion to determine a reasonable attorney’s fee. But plaintiffs do not argue the award was a breach of the district court’s discretion, and if the court remanded, it would be for an explicit exercise of that discretion, applying the principles of section 1712(a)-(c). The court determined that any award greater than $17,438.45 would be unreasonable in light of class counsel’s limited success in obtaining value for the class. Accordingly, the court concluded that any error was harmless and affirmed the judgment. View "Galloway v. The Kansas City Landsmen, LLC" on Justia Law
Carlsen v. GameStop, Inc.
Nelson v. Midland Credit Mgmt.
Plaintiff filed suit against Midland under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. 1692e, alleging that Midland violated the FDCPA by filing a proof of claim on a time-barred debt. The district court dismissed for failure to state a claim. The court declined to extend the FDCPA to time-barred proofs of claim, concluding that an accurate and complete proof of claim on a time-barred debt is not false, deceptive, misleading, unfair, or unconscionable under the FDCPA. The court explained that the bankruptcy code provides for a claims resolution process and these protections against harassment and deception satisfy the relevant concerns of the FDCPA. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Nelson v. Midland Credit Mgmt." on Justia Law
Hageman v. Barton
Plaintiff filed suit against Defendants Barton, Weiss, and CACi, raising claims under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. 1692d-f, alleging misrepresentations along with certain claims for interest and costs. The court concluded that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine does not apply in this case where plaintiff seeks relief from neither a Missouri judgment nor an Illinois garnishment order. Rather, plaintiff alleges statutory violations seeking statutory penalties based on Barton’s actions in the process of obtaining the judgment and order. The court further concluded that, because equitable tolling does not apply, all of plaintiff’s FDCPA claims directed towards conduct that preceded the Illinois proceedings are time barred. Because Barton's use of the Illinois courts did not amount to an action "against the consumer," those actions were not subject to the FDCPA's venue restriction. The court affirmed as to these claims. The court reversed the district court's dismissal of claims that allege independent FDCPA violations in the Illinois proceedings related to the identity of Barton’s client and the amounts of interests and costs asserted; the court declined at the pleading stage of this case to apply state-law preclusion principles to these remaining claims due to the absence of briefing and the parties’ failure to clearly identify the state law applied by the Illinois court; and because federal claims remain, the court reversed the discretionary dismissal of the state law claims and remanded for further proceedings. View "Hageman v. Barton" on Justia Law