Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

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The Eleventh Circuit sua sponte vacated its previous opinion and publish this opinion in its place. This appeal involved the approval of a class action settlement against Godiva for violating the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) by printing more digits of his credit card number than the Act allowed. Objectors challenged the class settlement reached by plaintiff and Godiva, but the district court approved the settlement, class counsel's request for attorney's fees, and an incentive award for plaintiff. The court affirmed. The court held that Congress judged the risk of identity theft plaintiff suffered to be sufficiently concrete to confer standing, and the risk of identity theft bears a close enough relationship to the common law tort of breach of confidence to make plaintiff's injury concrete. In this case, plaintiff alleged he suffered a heightened risk of identity theft as a result of a FACTA violation and his allegation was sufficient under Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, 578 U.S. ___, 136 S. Ct. 1540 (2016). The court declined to follow the Third Circuit's rule that actual identity theft was required to bring a FACTA claim. Rather, the court held that Congress conferred the procedural right in FACTA to reduce the risk of identity theft. View "Muransky v. Godiva Chocolatier, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff appealed the district court's dismissal of his claim under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act, arising from an attempt by defendants to collect on plaintiff's time-barred consumer debt. The Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of the FDCPA claim and held that the collection letter plaintiff received plausibly could be misleading or deceptive to the "least sophisticated consumer" in violation of 15 U.S.C. 1692e. Although the court found that plaintiff stated a plausible claim, the court held that attempting to collect on time-barred debt was not a per se unfair or unconscionable practice that automatically violates section 1692f of the FDCPA. Finally, the court reinstated plaintiff's state claim and remanded for further proceedings. View "Holzman v. Malcolm S. Gerald & Associates, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against defendant, alleging violation of the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), violation of the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act, and breach of contract. This action arose when defendant incorrectly confirmed to credit reporting agencies that plaintiffs had a balloon payment pending, and then charged plaintiffs for lender-placed insurance on the property that plaintiffs had turned over to defendant years earlier and no longer owed. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's finding of a willful FCRA violation, but reversed the denial of emotional distress and punitive damages because genuine issues of material fact exist concerning these claims; reversed the grant of summary judgment for defendant on the state claim, because genuine issues of material fact exist concerning where defendant made debt collection calls to plaintiff in the fall of 2013, whether defendant maintained procedures reasonably adapted to avoid violations of the Florida Consumer Collections Practices Act that would entitle defendant to the bona fide error defense, and whether defendant's vendor was acting as defendant's agent when it sent lender-placed insurance letters to plaintiffs; reversed the grant of summary judgment for defendants on the breach of contract claims, because genuine issues of material fact exist as to whether defendant breached the settlement agreement and whether plaintiffs have proved damages; vacated the award of attorney's fees to plaintiffs so that the district court can recalculate those fees at the conclusion of the litigation; and remanded for further proceedings. View "Marchisio v. Carrington Mortgage Services, LLC." on Justia Law

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Where a roofing shingle manufacturer displays on the exterior wrapping of every package of shingles the entirety of its product-purchase agreement—including, as particularly relevant here, a mandatory-arbitration provision— homeowners whose roofers ordered, opened, and installed the shingles are bound by the agreement's terms. The Eleventh Circuit held that the manufacturer's packaging in this case sufficed to convey a valid offer of contract terms, that unwrapping and retaining the shingles was an objectively reasonable means of accepting that offer, and that the homeowners' grant of express authority to their roofers to buy and install shingles necessarily included the act of accepting purchase terms on the homeowners' behalf. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's decision to grant the manufacturer's motion to compel arbitration and to dismiss the homeowners' complaint. View "Dye v. Tamko Building Products, Inc." on Justia Law

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Objectors challenged a class action settlement between plaintiff and Godiva for claims under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA). Over the objections, the district court approved the settlement, class counsel's request for attorney's fees, and an incentive award for plaintiff. The Eleventh Circuit held that class members who objected to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3) class settlements but did not opt out were "parties" for purposes of appeal. Determining that Article III standing requirements were satisfied, the court held on the merits that the district court did not abuse its discretion by awarding attorney's fees despite a Rule 23(h) violation; the district court properly assessed the risks faced by the class and the compensation secured by class counsel, and did not abuse its discretion by awarding an above-benchmark percentage of the common fund; and the district court did not abuse its discretion by granting a $10,000 incentive award to plaintiff as class representative. View "Muransky v. Godiva Chocolatier, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Via Varejo in an action brought by Direct Niche under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA), seeking to obtain a declaratory judgment that its registration and use of the domain name casasbahia.com was not unlawful under the ACPA. At issue on appeal was whether Via Varejo owned the Casas Bahia service mark in the United States. The court held that Via Varejo owns the Casas Bahia service mark in the United States where it contracted with U.S. companies to provide advertising of their goods on the Casas Bahia website. Furthermore, Via Varejo's marketing director testified to his personal knowledge that the Casas Bahia Website receives millions of visits every year from IP addresses located in the United States. Therefore, the district court's conclusion that the evidence demonstrated sufficient public use in commerce to establish ownership of the mark was not clearly erroneous. View "Direct Niche, LLC v. Via Varejo S/A" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Wells Fargo, a mortgage servicer, in an action alleging that Wells Fargo failed to conduct a reasonable investigation into the accuracy of its credit reporting of her mortgage loan, in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The court held that plaintiff could not prevail on her claim against Wells Fargo under section 1681s-2(b) of the FCRA without identifying some fact in the record establishing that the information Wells Fargo reported regarding her account was inaccurate or incomplete. In this case, regardless of whether plaintiff may have been confused about how her account would be reported to the credit rating agencies, and whether Wells Fargo could have better explained to her how the account would be reported, she did not meet her payment obligations under the note. Finally, any omissions did not render plaintiff's credit report misleading. View "Felts v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

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In 2011 and 2012, a number of individuals and closely held corporations known as Treasure Your Success (TYS) operated a fraudulent credit card interest reduction scheme. Universal Processing Services of Wisconsin, LLC (Universal) violated the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR), 16 C.F.R. 310.1 et seq., by providing substantial assistance to the TYS schemers. The district court found that a violation of the TSR constitutes an “unfair or deceptive act or practice” in violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act. As such, the district court was authorized to order restitution and disgorgement. Furthermore, the court clarified that substantial assistance under the TSR was itself sufficient to justify joint and several liability. The court reaffirmed its order holding Universal jointly and severally liable; Universal contended that was error and joint and several liability can only lie where the defendant is a participant in a common enterprise with the primary violators. The Eleventh Circuit concluded after review the district court did not abuse its discretion in holding Universal jointly and severally liable with the members of the TYS scheme. View "Federal Trade Comm'r v. Universal Processing Services of Wisconsin, LLC" on Justia Law

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A voicemail can, and will, be considered a communication under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. 1692, if the voicemail reveals that the call was from a debt collection company and provides instructions and information to return the call. Meaningful disclosure is provided as long as the caller reveals the nature of the debt collection company's business, which can be satisfied by disclosing that the call is on behalf of a debt collection company, and the name of the debt collection company. In this case, the Eleventh Circuit reversed in part and affirmed in part the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claims against Credit Control, alleging that Credit Control violated the FDCPA not only by failing to provide the required disclosures for initial communications with consumers, but also by failing to provide meaningful disclosure. View "Hart v. Credit Control, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit alleging that TransUnion willfully violated a provision of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. 1681e(b), 1681n, which requires that a consumer reporting agency "follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy of the information concerning the individual about whom the report relates." The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint for failure to allege a plausible claim for relief. The court held that it was was not objectively unreasonable for TransUnion to interpret section 1681e(b) to permit it to report an account for which a consumer, like plaintiff in this case, was an authorized user. View "Pedro v. Transunion LLC" on Justia Law