Justia Consumer Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
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The overarching issue here presented for the Tenth Circuit's review centered on whether the economic-loss rule prevented use of tort remedies for a lender’s failure to carry out its promises. The claims grew out of Plaintiff-appellant Mary Mayotte’s mortgage with U.S. Bank, which used Wells Fargo to service the loan. Mayotte sought modification of the loan and alleged that Wells Fargo had agreed to modify her loan if she withheld three payments. Based on this alleged understanding, Mayotte withheld three payments. But Wells Fargo denied agreeing to modify the loan, and U.S. Bank eventually foreclosed. The foreclosure spurred Mayotte to sue U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo, asserting statutory claims (violation of the Colorado Consumer Protection Act), tort claims (negligence, negligent supervision, and negligent hiring), and a claim for a declaratory judgment. The district court granted summary judgment to U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo, relying in part on the economic-loss rule and Mayotte’s failure to present evidence of compensatory damages. The district court ultimately entered judgment in favor of defendants-lenders, rejecting Mayotte's effort to recover tort remedies for wrongful conduct consisting solely of alleged contractual breaches. To this, the Tenth Circuit agreed with the district court and affirmed judgment. View "Mayotte v. U.S. Bank" on Justia Law

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Deborah and Dallas Platt purchased a 2016 Winnebago Era RV in 2016. This purchase was subject to Winnebago’s New Vehicle Limited Warranty, which required the Platts to bring the RV for repairs to an authorized dealer and then, if those repairs were insufficient, to Winnebago itself before they could bring an action against Winnebago. The RV suffered from a litany of defects and the Platts took it in for warranty repairs to Camping World of Golden, Colorado (Camping World), an authorized Winnebago dealership, on numerous occasions for numerous separate defects within the first seven and a half months of their ownership. When the Camping World repairs did not resolve the Platts’ issues with the RV, they scheduled an appointment for repairs with Winnebago in Forest City, Iowa, but they subsequently cancelled the appointment, claiming they had "lost faith" that Winnebago would repair their RV. The Platts sued Winnebago for breach of express and implied warranties under both the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and Colorado state law, and also for deceptive trade practices in violation of the Colorado Consumer Protection Act (CCPA). Winnebago filed a motion for summary judgment which the district court granted, dismissing all of the Platts’ claims. The Platts appealed, but finding no reversible error, the Tenth Circuit affirmed. View "Platt v. Winnebago Industries" on Justia Law

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Elizabeth Frost died in an accidental house fire. At the time, ADT provided security monitoring services to the premises. During the fire, ADT received several alerts through its monitoring system. Although ADT attempted to call Frost and the back-up number listed on her account, it did not get through. After several such attempts, ADT cleared the alerts without contacting emergency services. The administrator of Frost’s estate and her minor heir, M.F., sued ADT. The central theme of the complaint was that ADT’s failure to notify emergency services contradicted representations on its website that it would do so, and that failure wrongfully caused or contributed to Frost’s death. The district court dismissed the complaint, holding the one-year suit limitation provision in the contract between ADT and Frost barred the claims and that Claimants failed to state a claim with respect to certain counts. Because the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals found the contract between Frost and ADT provided an enforceable suit-limitation provision that barred the claims at issue, it affirmed dismissal. View "Frost v. ADT" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs Malik Hasan, M.D. and Seeme Hasan appealed the entry of summary judgment against them and the denial of their motion for leave to amend their complaint. Plaintiffs sought to recover under an insurance policy with Defendant AIG Property Casualty Co. for the alleged loss of wine bottles that were not delivered to them by a retailer whom they had paid for the wine. The retailer had declared bankruptcy and its principal had pleaded guilty to conducting a Ponzi scheme. The district court held that Plaintiffs were not entitled to recover because they had not shown any physical loss or damage to the wine they had ordered. The Tenth Circuit affirmed summary judgment, although on a different ground: plaintiffs’ loss was not insured because they failed to present adequate evidence that they were the owners of any wine bottles not delivered to them. View "Hasan v. AIG Property" on Justia Law

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Malik Hasan ordered wine from Premier Cru Fine Wines (Premier Cru) and paid with credit cards issued by Chase Bank USA, N.A. (Chase) and American Express Centurion Bank (AmEx). Premier Cru declared bankruptcy while Hasan was still waiting for delivery of wine that he paid nearly $1 million for. Hasan claimed that under a provision of the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA), Chase and AmEx had to refund his accounts the amount he paid for wine that Premier Cru failed to deliver. But because the Tenth Circuit rejected Hasan’s interpretation of that FCBA provision, it affirmed the district court’s orders dismissing his complaints against Chase and AmEx. View "Hasan v. Chase Bank USA" on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the Tenth Circuit’s review centered on how, or even whether, an important-but-subtle and often confusing doctrine limiting federal-court jurisdiction should apply to a unique Colorado procedure for “nonjudicial” foreclosure of mortgages. Plaintiff Mary Mayotte was the debtor on a note held by U.S. Bank, NA. Wells Fargo serviced the loan for U.S. Bank. One allegation was that Plaintiff contacted Wells Fargo to modify her loan, that Wells Fargo told her she needed to miss three payments to secure a modification, and that she eventually took this advice. Rather than granting her a modification, however, Wells Fargo placed her in default. She further alleged the defendants fabricated documents, that their actions rendered her title unmarketable, that they had no ownership interest in her promissory note or property, that they have been unjustly enriched by accepting payments not due them, that they damaged her credit standing, and that they violated the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The jurisdictional doctrine raised by this appeal was the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, which forbade lower federal courts from reviewing state-court civil judgments. Colorado Rule of Civil Procedure 120 requires creditors pursuing nonjudicial foreclosure to first obtain a ruling by a Colorado trial court that there is a reasonable probability that a default exists. The Tenth Circuit determined it did not need to decide whether the Rooker-Feldman doctrine barred a federal court challenge to a Rule 120 proceeding or ruling: the federal-court suit here was not barred because none of the claims (at least none pursued on appeal) challenged the Rule 120 proceedings or sought to set aside the Rule 120 ruling. The Court left that issue for the district court on remand to consider what effect, if any, the Rule 120 ruling may have had on this case under state-law doctrines of claim and issue preclusion. View "Mayotte v. U.S. Bank National Association" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-Appellant Dennis Obduskey appealed a district court’s order granting Defendants-Appellees Wells Fargo and McCarthy and Holthus, LLP’s motions to dismiss numerous claims, including whether either party was liable as a “debt collector” under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). In 2014, Wells Fargo hired McCarthy and Holthus, LLP, a law firm, to pursue a non-judicial foreclosure on Obduskey’s home. Obduskey responded to a letter McCarthy sent him; rather than responding further, McCarthy initiated a foreclosure action. Obduskey then filed this action claiming (1) a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act; (2) a violation of the Colorado Consumer Protection Act; (3) defamation; (4) extreme and outrageous conduct - emotional distress; and (5) commencement of an unlawful collections action. Wells Fargo and McCarthy filed motions to dismiss, which the district court granted on all claims. Regarding the FDCPA claim, the district court held that Wells Fargo was not liable because it began servicing the loan prior to default. It also held that McCarthy was not a “debt collector” because “foreclosure proceedings are not a collection of a debt,” but it noted that “not all courts have agreed” on whether foreclosure proceedings are covered under the FDCPA. After review, the Tenth Circuit found that the FDCPA does not apply to non-judicial foreclosure proceedings in Colorado, and affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Obduskey’s claims. View "Obduskey v. Wells Fargo" on Justia Law

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Cox Cable subscribers cannot access premium cable services unless they also rent a set-top box from Cox. A class of plaintiffs in Oklahoma City sued Cox under antitrust laws, alleging Cox had illegally tied cable services to set-top-box rentals in violation of section 1 of the Sherman Act, which prohibits illegal restraints of trade. Though a jury found that Plaintiffs had proved the necessary elements to establish a tying arrangement, the district court disagreed. In granting Cox’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 50(b) motion, the court determined that Plaintiffs had offered insufficient evidence for a jury to find that Cox’s tying arrangement "foreclosed a substantial volume of commerce in Oklahoma City to other sellers or potential sellers of set-top boxes in the market for set- top boxes." After careful consideration, the Tenth Circuit ultimately agreed with the district court and affirmed. View "Healy v. Cox Communications" on Justia Law

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Several individuals in multiple states (collectively, plaintiffs) brought class action lawsuits against various fuel retailers (collectively, defendants) based on defendants’ failure to control for, or at least disclose, the effects of temperature on gasoline. In 2007, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated these cases and designated the District of Kansas as the transferee district. After years of legal wrangling, several of the parties entered into settlement agreements, which the district court ultimately approved. These appeals arose from: (1) the district court’s approval of those settlement agreements; and (2) its interpretation of one of them. The Tenth Circuit consolidated the appeals for procedural purposes. “The settlement agreements at issue here are unusual. But the decision to approve them rests with the sound discretion of the district court. Under the unique facts of this case, we can’t say the district court abused that discretion. Accordingly, we affirm the district court’s approval of the 10 settlement agreements.” View "In re: Motor Fuel Temperature" on Justia Law