Justia Consumer Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
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
Cordoba v. DIRECTV, LLC
Plaintiff filed a class action under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, alleging that DIRECTV and the company it contracted with to provide telemarketing services, Telecel, failed to maintain the do-not-call list and continued to call individuals who asked not to be contacted.The Eleventh Circuit vacated the district court's certification order, holding that the unnamed members of the putative class who did not ask DIRECTV to stop calling them were not injured by the failure to comply with the regulation. Therefore, their injuries were not fairly traceable to DIRECTV's alleged wrongful conduct, and thus they lacked Article III standing to sue DIRECTV. The court also held that, although the case was justiciable because the named plaintiff had standing, the district court abused its discretion in certifying the class as it is currently defined. In this case, determining whether each class member asked Telecel to stop calling requires an individualized inquiry, and the district court did not consider this problem at all when it determined that issues common to the class predominated over issues individual to each class member. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Cordoba v. DIRECTV, LLC" on Justia Law
Pinson v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, NA
Plaintiff filed suit against the Bank, asserting claims under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The district court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim.Determining that plaintiff had Article III standing, the Eleventh Circuit held that plaintiff has stated three plausible claims for relief under the FCRA, where he alleged that the Bank willfully violated the FCRA by failing to investigate his dispute and unlawfully obtained his credit report. Accordingly, the court reversed in part and remanded for further proceedings. However, plaintiff did not plausibly state a claim under the FDCPA, because the least sophisticated consumer would not believe that Chase Home Finance was a third-party debt collector distinct from the Bank. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the FDCPA claim. View "Pinson v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, NA" on Justia Law
Davis v. Oasis Legal Finance Operating Co.
Plaintiffs, a class of borrowers, filed suit in Georgia against their lenders, alleging that their loan agreements violated state usury laws. After removal to federal court, the district court concluded that the forum selection clause and class action waiver were unenforceable based on Georgia public policy. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed, holding that Georgia's Payday Lending Act and Industrial Loan Act articulate a clear public policy against enforcing forum selection clauses in payday loan agreements and in favor of preserving class actions as a remedy for those aggrieved by predatory lenders. View "Davis v. Oasis Legal Finance Operating Co." on Justia Law
Salcedo v. Hanna
Receiving a single unsolicited text message, sent in violation of a federal statute, is not a concrete injury in fact that establishes standing to sue in federal court. Plaintiff filed suit against defendant, alleging violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) after he received unsolicited text messages from defendant's law firm. The court found that the history and the judgment of Congress did not support a finding of concrete injury in plaintiff's allegations. In this case, plaintiff's allegations of a brief, inconsequential annoyance were categorically distinct from those kinds of real but intangible harms. The court noted that its assessment was qualitative, not quantitative. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded with instructions to dismiss without prejudice the amended complaint. View "Salcedo v. Hanna" on Justia Law
Muransky v. Godiva Chocolatier, Inc.
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