Justia Consumer Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals
NACS, et al. v. FRS
Congress passed the Durbin Amendment as part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, Pub. L. No. 111-203, 124 Stat. 1376, which modified the Electric Funds Transfer Act (EFTA), Pub. L. No. 96-630, 92 Stat. 3641. At issue were two key provisions of the EFTA: section 920(a), which restricted the amount of the interchange fee and section 920(b), which prohibited certain exclusivity and routing priority agreements. Merchant groups challenged the Board's issuance of regulations imposing a cap on the per-transaction fees banks received (section 920(a)) and, in an effort to force networks to compete for merchants' business, requiring that at least two networks owned and operated by different companies be able to process transactions on each debit card (section 920(b)). Merchant groups sought lower fees and even more network competition. The court applied traditional tools of statutory interpretation and held that the Board's rules generally rest on reasonable constructions of the statute. The court remanded one minor issue regarding the treatment of so-called transactions-monitoring costs to the Board for further explanation. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the merchants and remanded for further proceedings. View "NACS, et al. v. FRS" on Justia Law
United States v. Philip Morris USA Inc.
Thirteen years ago, the Government sued several cigarette manufacturers (Defendants) and related industry organizations for civil violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The suit asserted that Defendants had conspired to deceive consumers about the health effects and addictiveness of smoking, seeking injunctive relief and disgorgement of $280 billion in profits. In this latest round of the lawsuit, Defendants challenged the district court's refusal to vacate injunctions imposed in 2009. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not clearly err when it found Defendants were reasonably likely to commit future RICO violations despite the passage of the Tobacco Control Act; and (2) did not abuse its discretion when it refused to vacate its injunctions under the primary jurisdiction doctrine. View "United States v. Philip Morris USA Inc." on Justia Law
United States v. Philip Morris USA Inc.
Thirteen years ago, the Government sued several tobacco companies for civil violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The suit asserted that Defendants had conspired to deceive consumers about the health effects and addictiveness of smoking, seeking, among other things, injunctive relief. The district court granted injunctive relief against the tobacco companies to prevent future RICO violations. The injunction included provisions requiring Appellants to make disclosure to the Government of various marketing data. The parties were unable to agree on the parameters of the disclosure requirement. The district court determined (1) the companies were required to furnish the full range of disaggregated marketing data sought by the Government under its understanding of the injunction; and (2) the Government could disclose the data to other governmental entities subject to the confidentiality provisions in the final order. The tobacco companies sought an interlocutory appeal, claiming that the clarification of the injunction actually effected a modification of the requirements. The D.C. Circuit Court of appeals dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction, concluding that the district court did not modify the injunction. View "United States v. Philip Morris USA Inc." on Justia Law
Spirit Airlines, Inc. v. U.S. Dep’t of Transp.
Pursuant to its authority to regulate "unfair and deceptive" practices in the airline industry, the Department of Transportation issued a final rule entitled "Enhancing Airline Passenger Protections." Spirit Airlines and others challenged three of the rule's provisions. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the petitions for review, holding (1) the requirement that the most prominent figure displayed on print advertisements and websites be the total price, inclusive of taxes, was not arbitrary and capricious or a violation of the First Amendment; (2) the requirement that airlines allow consumers who purchase their tickets more than a week in advance the option of canceling their reservations without penalty for twenty-four hours following purchase was not arbitrary and capricious; and (3) the prohibition against increasing the price of air transportation and baggage fees after consumers purchase their tickets was not procedurally unlawful or otherwise arbitrary and capricious. View "Spirit Airlines, Inc. v. U.S. Dep't of Transp. " on Justia Law
National Automobile Dealers Assoc. v. FTC
The Association petitioned for review of the Commission's interpretation of statutory language contained in a provision of the amended Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. 1681m(h). The Commission announced this interpretation in a Federal Register notice accompanying its promulgation of an amended rule regulating "risk-based pricing" of consumer credit. Because a challenge to such an interpretation must begin in the district court, the court dismissed the Association's petition for lack of jurisdiction. View "National Automobile Dealers Assoc. v. FTC" on Justia Law
Batiste v. SLM Corp.
Relator, on behalf of the United States, appealed the district court's dismissal of his qui tam complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1). The district court held that an earlier-filed complaint barred its consideration of relator's complaint under the first-to-file rule of the federal False Claims Act (FCA), 31 U.S.C. 3730(b)(5). At issue was whether Section 3730(b)(5) required the first-filed complaint to meet the heightened pleading standards of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9(b) for alleging fraud in order to bar a later-filed complaint. The court held that the earlier-filed complaint alleged the same material elements of a fraudulent scheme as relator's complaint, and that the earlier-filed complaint need not meet the heightened pleading standards of Rule 9(b) to allege facts sufficient to prompt a government investigation, and thus, to bar later-filed complaints under Section 3730(b)(5). The court also held that relator waived his argument that the case should not have been dismissed with prejudice.
American Bar Association v. FTC
Appellees filed a suit challenging the Federal Trade Commission's ("Commission") Extended Enforcement Policy claiming that the Commission had intruded upon an area of traditional regulation when it authorized the Fair Trade Reporting Act ("FACT"), 15 U.S.C. 1681, and that the policy was unlawful absent a clear statement from Congress authorizing federal regulation over the practice of law. Shortly after oral arguments, Congress passed the Red Flag Program Clarification Act of 2010 which expressly amended the FACT Act by changing the definition of "creditor." Therefore, the court vacated the district court's opinion holding that legislation had clearly altered the posture of the case such that there was no longer a live "case or controversy" before the court.
Betty Ali v. Richard L. Tolbert, et al
Plaintiff filed an action against defendants claiming that they violated the D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act ("CPPA"), DC Code 28-3904, by inducing her to sell her house to one of the defendants and then failing to pay her the full amount promised. At issue was whether the district court erred in granting summary judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 and sanctions under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11. The court affirmed summary judgment where the district court correctly concluded on the record before it that one of the defendants was not a merchant subject to the CPPA. The court vacated the sanction award against one defendant where the defendant's conduct did not involve representations to the court that was sanctionable under Rule 11.