Justia Consumer Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
I Tan Tsao v. Captiva MVP Restaurant Partners, LLC
Plaintiff filed suit against PDQ, a restaurant he patroned, after a data breach that exposed PDQ customers' personal financial information. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal without prejudice and held that plaintiff did not have standing to sue based on the theory that he and a proposed class of PDQ customers are now exposed to a substantial risk of future identity theft. The court explained that plaintiff failed to allege either that the data breach placed him in a "substantial risk" of future identity theft or that identity theft was "certainly impending." The court stated that evidence of a mere data breach does not, standing alone, satisfy the requirements of Article III standing, and thus plaintiff does not have standing here based on an "increased risk" of identity theft. In the alternative, the court held that plaintiff has not suffered actual, present injuries in his efforts to mitigate the risk of identity theft caused by the data breach. View "I Tan Tsao v. Captiva MVP Restaurant Partners, LLC" on Justia Law
Lucoff v. Navient Solutions, LLC
Plaintiff filed suit against Navient and SAC after he received almost 2,000 calls regarding his unpaid student loan, alleging violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA). The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Navient and SAC, agreeing with the district court that plaintiff expressly consented to receive Navient and SAC's calls. In this case, plaintiff reconsented to receive automatic telephone dialing system (ATDS) and prerecorded calls by submitting an online demographic form. View "Lucoff v. Navient Solutions, LLC" on Justia Law
Erickson v. First Advantage Background Services Corp.
Plaintiff filed suit against First Advantage, claiming that the company's upsetting report failed to comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act's "maximum possible accuracy" standard.The Eleventh Circuit held that a report must be factually incorrect, objectively likely to mislead its intended user, or both to violate the maximal accuracy standard of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The court concluded that First Advantage did not violate the Act and thus there was no willful violation or any actionable reputational harm. In this case, the report was factually accurate where it stated that a registered sex offender in Pennsylvania shared plaintiff's first and last name. Furthermore, the report did not wrongfully attribute that record to plaintiff where it explained that the matching record was located using a name-only search and cautioned that the record might not be plaintiff's at all. View "Erickson v. First Advantage Background Services Corp." on Justia Law
Fox v. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, LLC
Plaintiff, on behalf of himself and individually, filed a class action alleging that the Ritz-Carlton violated the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act and Florida's tax regulations. Plaintiff's complaint stemmed from allegations that he and others paid illegal automatic gratuities and sales taxes at Ritz-Carlton’s forty-nine restaurants in Florida over the last four years. The district court dismissed the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction based on lack of standing. The district court also dismissed the tax refund claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction based on plaintiff's failure to exhaust his administrative remedies.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the tax refund claim based on exhaustion grounds. However, the court held that the district court erred in finding that plaintiff did not have standing to represent the class because he only paid the illegal automatic gratuity at three of Ritz-Carlton's restaurants. The court agreed with plaintiff that the class complaint alleged in good faith that the amount-in-controversy for the hundreds of thousands of Ritz-Carlton guests in Florida that unlawfully paid an automatic gratuity over the last four years exceeded $5 million. Accordingly, the court reversed in part and remanded for further proceedings. View "Fox v. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, LLC" on Justia Law
Domante v. Dish Networks, LLC
The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Dish Networks in plaintiff's action for breach of contract and violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Plaintiff alleges that Dish negligently and willfully violated the FCRA by requesting and obtaining a consumer report from a consumer reporting agency after an identity thief fraudulently submitted some of plaintiff's personal information to Dish. Plaintiff also alleges that Dish's actions violated a settlement agreement that the parties signed after a similar incident occurred several years ago involving the same parties.The court held that Dish had a "legitimate business purpose" under the FCRA when it obtained plaintiff's consumer report. The court also held that Dish did not violate the settlement agreement where the district court correctly found that plaintiff's claim failed to establish the breach element. View "Domante v. Dish Networks, LLC" on Justia Law
Trichell v. Midland Credit Management, Inc.
The Eleventh Circuit held that plaintiffs lacked Article III standing to pursue their claims under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Plaintiffs alleged that collection letters were misleading and unfair in falsely suggesting that they could be sued or that the debt could be reported to credit-rating agencies. The court wrote that plaintiffs seek to recover for representations that they contend were misleading or unfair, but without proving even that they relied on the representations, much less that the reliance caused them any damages. View "Trichell v. Midland Credit Management, Inc." on Justia Law
Medley v. Dish Network, LLC
Plaintiff filed suit alleging that DISH violated the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA) in its attempts to collect debt it knew had been discharged in bankruptcy and in its direct contacts with plaintiff knowing she was represented by counsel. Plaintiff also alleged that DISH violated the Telephone Consumer Practices Act (TCPA) by contacting plaintiff about the debt with an automated dialing system after she revoked her consent to receive such calls.The Eleventh Circuit first determined that DISH's claim for the Pause debt was discharged. The court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment as to the FCCPA claims. In this case, DISH attempted to collect debt it had no legal right to collect because the debt had been discharged in bankruptcy, and DISH directly contacted plaintiff after having received notice that she was represented by counsel. Accordingly, the court remanded on the FCCPA claims for the district court to consider whether DISH actually knew that the Pause charges were invalid and that plaintiff was represented by counsel with regard to the debt it was attempting to collect, and if so, whether such errors were unintentional and the result of bona fide error.The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment as to the TCPA claim, holding that the TCPA does not allow unilateral revocation of consent given in a bargained-for contract. The court reasoned that, by permitting plaintiff to unilaterally revoke a mutually-agreed-upon term in a contract would run counter to black-letter contract law in effect at the time Congress enacted the TCPA. View "Medley v. Dish Network, LLC" on Justia Law
Lawson-Ross v. Great Lakes Higher Education Corp.
Borrowers filed suit alleging that Great Lakes made affirmative misrepresentations to them and other borrowers that they were on track to have their student loans forgiven based on their public-service employment when, in fact, their loans were ineligible for the forgiveness program. Borrowers alleged a variety of claims under Florida law, including the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA). The district court ruled that Borrowers' claims were preempted by a provision of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA), which prohibits the application of state law disclosure requirements to loans made under federal student loan programs.The Eleventh Circuit held that the HEA, which expressly preempts state law disclosure requirements, does not preempt Borrowers' claims in this case. The court also held that Borrowers' claims are not otherwise preempted. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's dismissal of the claims and remanded for further proceedings. View "Lawson-Ross v. Great Lakes Higher Education Corp." on Justia Law
Darrisaw v. Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency
Plaintiff, a student loan borrower, filed suit against PHEAA under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act after it tried to collect a debt she never incurred. The district court dismissed the complaint, holding that PHEAA, which guarantees federal student loans for the Secretary of Education, is not a "debt collector" under the Act.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed and agreed with the district court that PHEAA fell within an exception for persons who collect debts "incidental to a bona fide fiduciary obligation." The court stated that the text of the Act makes clear that a person may attempt to collect a debt "incidential to a bona fide fiduciary obligation" whether the debt sought to be collected is "owed or due" another or only "asserted to be owed or due another." Therefore, plaintiff failed to plausibly allege that PHEAA qualified as a debt collector. View "Darrisaw v. Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency" on Justia Law
Williams v. First Advantage Background Services Corp.
Defendant appealed the district court's denial of its motion for judgment as a matter of law, or in the alternative, motion for a new trial or remittitur. In this Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion for judgment as a matter of law to the extent it challenged the reputational harm claim and the willfulness claim.However, the court vacated the jury's punitive damages award and remanded the case to the district court to enter a judgment awarding plaintiff $1 million in punitive damages. The court held that, although punitive damages were properly awarded, a $3.3 million dollar award was unconstitutionally excessive. View "Williams v. First Advantage Background Services Corp." on Justia Law