Justia Consumer Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
Dreher v. Experian Information Solutions
Where an individual fails to allege a concrete injury stemming from allegedly incomplete or incorrect information listed on a credit report, he or she cannot satisfy the threshold requirements of constitutional standing. At issue in this case was whether the decision of Experian to list a defunct credit card company, rather than the name of its servicer, as a source of information on an individual's credit report -- without more -- created sufficient injury in fact under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), 15 U.S.C. 1681g(a)(2), for purposes of Article III standing. The Fourth Circuit found no concrete injury on behalf of plaintiff because he was not adversely affected by the alleged error on his credit report. Therefore, the Fifth Circuit vacated the district court's denial of Experian's motion for summary judgment and remanded with instructions that the case be dismissed. View "Dreher v. Experian Information Solutions" on Justia Law
McCray v. Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp.
Plaintiff filed suit for damages in connection with a $66,500 loan secured by a deed of trust on her house. Plaintiff alleged that, in the administration of and collection efforts on the loan, defendants violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. 1692 et seq.; the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), 15 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.; and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), 12 U.S.C. 2601 et seq. The district court dismissed plaintiff's FDCPA and TILA claims and, following discovery, granted Wells Fargo’s motion for summary judgment on her RESPA claim. The court concluded that plaintiff adequately alleged that the White Firm and the Substitute Trustees were “debt collectors,” as that term is used in the FDCPA. Therefore, the court reversed the order of dismissal of her FDCPA claims against them and remanded for further proceedings, without suggesting whether or not those defendants violated the FDCPA. The court affirmed as to the TILA claims. View "McCray v. Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp." on Justia Law
Dubois v. Atlas Acquisitions LLC
After Kimberly Adkins and Chaille Dubois filed separate Chapter 13 bankruptcy petitions in the Bankruptcy Court, Atlas filed proofs of claim in their bankruptcy cases based on debts that were barred by Maryland’s statute of limitations. At issue is whether Atlas violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. 1692 et seq., by filing proofs of claim based on time-barred debts. The court held that Atlas’s conduct does not violate the FDCPA because filing a proof of claim in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy based on a debt that is time-barred does not violate the FDCPA when the statute of limitations does not extinguish the debt. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Dubois v. Atlas Acquisitions LLC" on Justia Law
Williams v. Lendmark Fin. Serv.
Plaintiff filed suit against Lendmark under Maryland’s Credit Grantor Closed End Credit Provisions (CLEC), Md. Code Ann., Com. Law 12-1001 et seq., challenging the manner in which Lendmark charged and applied late fees towards her personal loan of roughly $2,600. The district court entered judgment for Lendmark. The court concluded that Lendmark was not entitled to charge a late fee in December 2010 or February 2011, or in any month in which plaintiff paid an installment timely and in full. Because the court held that the complaint alleging these facts states a plausible claim for relief, the court reversed the district court's dismissal of this claim and remanded for further proceedings. The court affirmed as to the remainder of plaintiff's claims. View "Williams v. Lendmark Fin. Serv." on Justia Law
Henson v. Santander Consumer USA, Inc.
Plaintiffs, four Maryland consumers, filed suit against Santander and its agents, alleging that defendants violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C.1692-1692p, by engaging in prohibited collection practices when collecting on plaintiffs’ automobile loans. The court affirmed the district court's grant of Santander's motion to dismiss on the ground that the complaint did not allege facts showing that Santander qualified as a “debt collector” subject to the FDCPA. The court concluded that the FDCPA generally does not regulate creditors when they collect debt on their own account and that, on the facts alleged by plaintiffs, Santander became a creditor when it purchased the loans before engaging in the challenged practices. View "Henson v. Santander Consumer USA, Inc." on Justia Law
Hayes v. Delbert Services Corp.
Plaintiff filed a putative class action against Delbert alleging that Delbert violated debt collection practices. The district court granted Delbert's motion to compel arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C. 4. The court concluded, however, that the arbitration agreement in this case is unenforceable where it purportedly fashions a system of alternative dispute resolution while simultaneously rendering that system all but impotent through a categorical rejection of the requirements of state and federal law. The court went on to conclude that the FAA does not protect the sort of arbitration agreement that unambiguously forbids an arbitrator from even applying the applicable law. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Hayes v. Delbert Services Corp." on Justia Law
McFarland v. Wells Fargo Bank
Plaintiff filed suit against Wells Fargo, alleging that his mortgage agreement, providing him with a loan far in excess of his home’s actual value, was an “unconscionable contract” under the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act, W. Va. Code 46A–1–101 et seq. The court agreed with the district court that the amount of a mortgage loan, by itself, cannot show substantive unconscionability under West Virginia law, and that plaintiff has not otherwise made that showing. The court concluded, however, that the Act allows for claims of “unconscionable inducement” even when the substantive terms of a contract are not themselves unfair. Accordingly, the court remanded so that the district court may consider this issue in the first instance. View "McFarland v. Wells Fargo Bank" on Justia Law
Askew v. HRFC, LLC
Plaintiff filed suit alleging that HRFC violated the Maryland Credit Grantor Closed End Credit Provisions (CLEC), Md. Code Ann., Com. Law 12-1001 et seq., breached a retail installment sales contract, and violated the Maryland Consumer Debt Collection Act (MCDCA), Md. Code. Ann., Com. Law 14-201 et seq. The district court granted summary judgment to HRFC. The court held that HRFC’s mere failure to disclose an interest rate below CLEC’s statutory maximum is not a distinct violation of section 12-1003(a) for which liability may be imposed; HRFC complied with section 12-1020’s notice requirement and HRFC did not fail to properly cure its error; and the court rejected plaintiff's contention that because the contract incorporates CLEC’s provisions, HRFC is liable for breach of contract for any deviation from CLEC, “regardless of whether HRFC properly cured the failure to comply” with the statute. The court held, however, that a jury could find that HRFC's conduct, at least in the aggregate, could reasonably be expected to abuse or harass plaintiff. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's order in regard to the MCDCA claim. The court affirmed as to the CLEC and breach of contract claims. View "Askew v. HRFC, LLC" on Justia Law