Justia Consumer Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Virginia Supreme Court
St. Joe Co. v. Norfolk Redev. and Hous. Auth.
Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority (NRHA) filed a complaint against the St. Joe Company and Advantis Real Estate Services Company alleging unjust enrichment and seeking imposition of a constructive trust and recovery of funds supplied by NRHA to its agent, Advantis, for the payment of contractors who had performed services for NRHA. St. Joe held a perfected secured interest in Advantis's operating account and exercised its rights as a secured creditor over that account to have funds from Advantis's account, including those entrusted to Advantis as NRHA's agent, transferred to a St. Joe account. The circuit court entered summary judgment in favor of NRHA. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the imposition of a constructive was was proper and necessary to prevent a failure of justice and unjust enrichment. View "St. Joe Co. v. Norfolk Redev. and Hous. Auth." on Justia Law
First Am. Title Ins. Co. v. W. Surety Co.
First American Title Insurance Company (FATIC) provided title insurance for a mortgage refinancing to SunTrust Mortgage through FATIC's title agent, First Alliance. First Alliance subsequently obtained a $100,000 surety bond pursuant to the Virginia Consumer Real Estate Settlement Protection Act (CRESPA) from Western Surety (Western). After the property owner defaulted under the original mortgages, SunTrust lost $734,296. FATIC paid the full amount of this loss then made a formal demand upon Western for $100,000. Western refused to pay FATIC the amount of the surety bond. FATIC sued Western and First Alliance for breach of contract. The district court entered judgment in FATIC's favor for $100,000. The Supreme Court held (1) CRESPA does not recognize a private cause of action that may be asserted against a surety and the surety bond issued pursuant to former Va. Code Ann. 6.1-2.21(D)(3); (2) Virginia law nonetheless permits a cause of action against a surety and the surety bond executed pursuant to CRESPA by the assertion of a common law claim; and (3) a title insurance company may have standing, not in its own right, but as a subrogee of its insured, to maintain a cause of action against a surety and the surety bond. View "First Am. Title Ins. Co. v. W. Surety Co." on Justia Law
Ruby v. Cashnet, Inc.
From March 2005 to November 2007, Appellee Wilma Ruby entered into a total of 33 payday loan agreements with Appellant Cashnet, Inc. The amount of each loan increased over time. Appellee failed to pay her last loan. In 2008, Appellee brought suit against Cashnet alleging that with each loan she made, she was refinancing, renewing or extending the previous loan, in violation of state law. She further alleged that the annual percentage rate for each loan exceeded the finance fee allowed under state law. Appellee sought the return of interest paid or statutory damages and attorney's fees. A bench trial was held on Appellee's claims; the circuit court ruled in Cashnet's favor, holding that the loans did not constitute a refinance, renewal or extension, and were not in violation of the law. On appeal, the Supreme Court gave ordinary meaning to the terms at issue in the lower court's ruling: "refinance" and "renew." The Court found that "refinancing" is the exchange of an old debt for a new one; "renewal" is the recreation of a legal relationship or the replacement of an old contract with a new one. By looking at the substance of the transactions between Cashnet and Appellee, the Court deduced that the proceeds from each new loan were being used to repay the previous loan, therefore each transaction was refinanced. The Court held that Cashnet's practice of making loans to Appellee immediately after she repaid a previous loan was a refinancing in violation of state law. It reversed the circuit court's decision and remanded the case for further proceedings.