Justia Consumer Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
Vanover v. NCO Financial Services
In 2014, plaintiff filed suit against NCO for violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) because NCO attempted to collect medical debts from her (Vanover I). Plaintiff then filed suit against NCO in Florida state court alleging violations of the TCPA, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FCPA), and the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA) (Vanover II). The Eleventh Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the permissive joinder of additional parties because plaintiff's failure to timely amend her complaint in Vanover I to include these parties did not justify subjecting NCO to duplicative litigation. Furthermore, NCO had no obligation to seek consolidation of Vanover I and Vanover II. Therefore, the district court properly acted within its discretion when it denied plaintiff's motion to permissively join additional parties. The Eleventh Circuit, as a matter of first impression, agreed with the test announced by the Tenth Circuit that claim-spitting is not whether there is finality of judgment, but whether the first suit, assuming it were final, would preclude the second suit. Consequently, the district court did not err by dismissing Vanover II for improper claim-splitting. The court affirmed the judgment. View "Vanover v. NCO Financial Services" on Justia Law
Perry v. Cable News Network, Inc.
Plaintiff filed suit under the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA), 18 U.S.C. 2710, alleging that the CNN App, without a user's knowledge, both tracks the user's views of news articles and videos and also collects a record of this viewing activity. CNN sends the collected record of viewing activity to Bango, a third party company. Bango is able to compile personal information, including the user's name, location, phone number, email address, and payment information, and it can attribute this information to a single user across different devices and platforms. The district court dismissed the amended complaint. The court held that a plaintiff, such as the one in this case, satisfied the concreteness requirement of Article III standing where the plaintiff alleges a violation of the VPPA for wrongful disclosure. The court agreed with the district court that plaintiff is not a "subscriber" as defined by the VPPA such that CNN may be held liable. The court noted that it need not address whether CNN provided plaintiff's "personally identifiable information" to a third party. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Perry v. Cable News Network, Inc." on Justia Law
Feggestad v. Kerzner International Bahamas Limited, et al.
Plaintiffs-Appellants James and Karen Feggestad appealed the district court’s order dismissing their complaint against defendants-appellees, Kerzner International Bahamas Limited, Kerzner International Limited, Island Hotel Company Limited, Paradise Island Limited, and Brookfield Asset Management Inc. (collectively, "Kerzner"), on the basis of a valid forum selection clause. The Feggestads made reservations at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, Bahamas (Atlantis) and received a reservation confirmation via their email address. The confirmation contained a section titled "Terms and Conditions" and included a hyperlink advising guests to view the other terms and conditions. This link provided advance notification that any dispute between the guest and the hotel or any affiliated company must be litigated exclusively in the Bahamas and that upon arrival at the Atlantis, the guest would be required to sign a registration form that included a Bahamian forum selection clause. When the Feggestads checked into the hotel, the resort asked them to sign a registration card, which also included an "acknowledgement, agreement and release," which also listed the clause at issue here. Several days after their arrival at the Atlantis, Mr. Feggestad slipped and fell on a wet sidewalk and sustained severe personal injuries. He later sued, and the forum-selection clause became an issue. After reviewing the record, reading the parties briefs and having the benefit of oral argument, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal. View "Feggestad v. Kerzner International Bahamas Limited, et al." on Justia Law
Agrelo v. The Meloni Law Firm
Plaintiffs filed suit against defendants, alleging that the five letters sent to them between May 16 and December 13, 2013 violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. 1692 et seq., and/or the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA), Fla. Stat. 559.55 et seq. The district court granted summary judgment to defendants. The court concluded, however, that the district court erred in concluding that the HOA fine at issue is not a debt for FCCPA purposes and granting summary judgment on that basis. The court did not decide whether under Florida law Marbella could be vicariously liable for the FCCPA violations of its agent because the district court failed to apply Florida law in the first instance. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to Affinity, vacated the grant of summary judgment to Marbella, and remanded to the district court for further proceedings. View "Agrelo v. The Meloni Law Firm" on Justia Law
Ray v. McCullough Payne & Haan, LLC
The firm filed suit against a consumer-debtor, Bryson Ray, in state court. After obtaining a judgment against Ray, the firm initiated a garnishment proceeding against Ray's bank to collect on the judgment. In response to the garnishment action, Ray filed suit alleging that the firm violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. i(a)(2), by bringing the garnishment action in a judicial district other than the one in which Ray resided or signed the underlying contract. The district court granted the firm's motion to dismiss. The court joined the First and Eighth Circuits and held that the FDCP's venue provision applies only to legal actions "against any consumer." In this case, the FDCPA’s venue provision does not apply to post-judgment garnishment proceedings under Georgia law where the process is fundamentally an action against the garnishee, not the consumer. The court rejected Ray's claims to the contrary and affirmed the judgment. View "Ray v. McCullough Payne & Haan, LLC" on Justia Law
Hinkle v. Midland Credit Mgmt.
Plaintiff filed suit against Midland, alleging claims under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), 15 U.S.C. 1681 et seq., and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. 1692 et seq. Plaintiff claims that Midland erroneously attributed debts to her, reported the debts to Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion credit reporting agencies (the CRAs), and failed to properly verify the debts when plaintiff disputed their validity. The district court held that no reasonable jury could find that Midland violated the FCRA or the FDCPA with respect to plaintiff. The court held that a reasonable jury could find that Midland willfully violated section 1681s-2(b) when it reported the GE/Meijer and T-Mobile accounts as “verified” without obtaining sufficient documentation that the debts in fact belonged to plaintiff. The court reversed as to this claim and affirmed as to all other claims. View "Hinkle v. Midland Credit Mgmt." on Justia Law
Bazemore v. Jefferson Capital Sys.
Plaintiff filed suit against JSC for an alleged violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. 1692. The district court concluded that plaintiff's claim was outside the scope of the arbitration clause and denied JSC's motion to compel arbitration. The court held that plaintiff failed to establish the existence of any agreement between plaintiff and FBD, the issuer of the credit card, beyond the agreement to pay whatever charges plaintiff incurred by using the credit card. Therefore, the court affirmed the judgment on different grounds. View "Bazemore v. Jefferson Capital Sys." on Justia Law
Johnson v. Midland Funding, LLC
In Crawford v. LVNV Funding, LLC, the court held that a debt collector violates the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. 1692e, when it files a proof of claim in a bankruptcy case on a debt that it knows to be time-barred. The district court in these cases interpreted the Crawford ruling as having placed the FDCPA and the Bankruptcy Code in irreconcilable conflict. The court concluded that, although the Code allows all creditors to file proofs of claim in bankruptcy cases, the Code does not at the same time protect those creditors from all liability. A particular subset of creditors - debt collectors - may be liable under the FDCPA for bankruptcy filings they know to be time-barred. Therefore, the court found no irreconcilable conflict between the FDCPA and the Code. The court reversed and remanded. View "Johnson v. Midland Funding, LLC" on Justia Law
Carriuolo v. General Motors Co.
General Motors challenged the district court's order granting in part a motion for class certification in an action brought by plaintiffs under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA), Fla. Stat. 501.201 et seq. The district court certified a class consisting of all Florida purchasers and lessees of 2014 Cadillac CTS sedans. In this case, the district court found the predominance requirement to be satisfied by an essential question common to each class member: whether the inaccurate Monroney sticker provided by General Motors constituted a misrepresentation prohibited by FDUTPA. The court concluded that, by inaccurately communicating that the 2014 Cadillac CTS had attained three perfect safety ratings, General Motors plainly obtained enhanced negotiating leverage that allowed it to command a price premium. The size of that premium represents the damages attributable to that theory of liability. Because that theory is consistent for all class members, the predominance requirement under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3) is satisfied. This consistency is also sufficient to establish the commonality requirement under Rule 23(a)(2). Because common questions of law and fact predominate, class-wide adjudication appropriately conserves judicial resources and advances society’s interests in judicial efficiency. Finally, the court rejected General Motor's contention that plaintiff failed to prove that she can fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class. Because the district court did not abuse its discretion in certifying the class, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Carriuolo v. General Motors Co." on Justia Law
Renfroe v. Nationstar Mortg., LLC
Plaintiff, a retired bank manager, filed suit against Nationstar under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), 12 U.S.C. 2601 et seq., a consumer-protection statute geared toward mortgagors. Plaintiff claimed that her mortgage payment incorrectly increased after Nationstar began servicing the loan. The district court granted Nationstar's motion to dismiss. The court concluded that plaintiff has plausibly alleged that Nationstar did not offer a written explanation stating the reason or reasons for its determination, in violation of section 2605(e)(2)(B) and 12 C.F.R. 1024.35(e)(1)(i)(B); that this failure indicated Nationstar's investigation was unreasonable; and that Nationstar’s unreasonable investigation prevented it from discovering and appropriately correcting the account error. The court concluded that the district court improperly elevated Nationstar's allegations over those of plaintiff at the motion-to-dismiss stage, and that plaintiff adequately pleaded damages. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Renfroe v. Nationstar Mortg., LLC" on Justia Law