Consumer Financial Services Litigation

Anyone interested in charters from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency should be following Lusnak vs. Bank of America, 883 F.3d 1185 (9th Cir. 2018), which is being appealed from the Ninth Circuit to the United States Supreme Court. OCC charters are of course a hot topic—now that the OCC is accepting applications from FinTech companies for national bank charters, the power of federal regulators to excuse federally chartered entities from compliance with state regulations may be more important than ever. After all, the key benefit offered by a national bank charter for many FinTech companies is exemption from state-level money transmission licensing and regulation… in theory.

In reality, many state-vs-federal constitutional questions remain unanswered. Federal courts are still defining the extent of the power of federal financial regulators to exempt federally regulated institutions from state laws. The Supreme Court could help clarify these important issues in the next year or two if it grants the recent request to consider LusnakContinue Reading Supreme Court Asked to Clarify Applicability of State Laws to OCC-Chartered Entities in Lusnak v. Bank of America

We work with many regional financial institution clients on a daily basis, and they regularly send us out-of-state garnishments, liens, levies, and other legal processes with one question—“Do I have to answer this?” The first question we ask is whether the foreign state can exercise jurisdiction over the regional financial institution—in other words, whether the financial institution is doing business in that state. Our clients are often quick to respond that they don’t have any branches or employees in other states, and so do not believe that they are doing business in those states.

But for the most part, the days of only “brick and mortar” banking are long gone. With the competition of internet banks and increase of technology, financial institutions are trying to become more appealing and accessible to their customers. To do that, they have increased their presence on the Internet. One result of this increased presence has been increased opportunity to market other products (such as CDs, car loans, or mortgage loans) outside of their home state.  Continue Reading Online Banking: Are Financial Institutions Subjecting Themselves to Other Jurisdictions Without Knowing?

Three years ago, the Illinois Supreme Court shook up foreclosure professionals when it affirmed the appellate court in 1010 Lakeshore Ass’n v. Deutsche Bank Nat’l Trust Co., 2015 IL 119372, 398 Ill. Dec. 95, 43 N.E.3d 1005 (“1010 Lakeshore”), to find that a homeowners’ association’s lien for past due assessments owed by the previous owner is not extinguished after a foreclosure sale if the new owner fails to pay foreclosure assessments accruing after foreclosure. The court reasoned that section 9(g)(3) of the Condominium Property Act (which requires a new owner to pay assessments “from and after the day of the month after the date of the judicial foreclosure” and provides that such payment confirms extinguishment of the lien), provided an incentive for “prompt payment” of post-foreclosure assessments. Continue Reading Confusion Still Looms in Illinois Over Past-Due Association Assessments After Foreclosure

It has been almost easy to forget that the PHH v. CFPB case started life as an appeal of an enforcement action taken by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) for purported violations of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA).  Technical RESPA issues quickly took a back seat in public discourse to the juicier issue in the case—whether the structure of the CFPB itself was unconstitutional. (Among the factors heightening the drama was the fact that, post-election, the new leadership at the Department of Justice reversed the Obama-era course in the litigation, directing its lawyers to argue against the CFPB and contend that the CFPB was unconstitutional.)

In the latest turn in the case, in a January 31 opinion, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit brought the RESPA issues back to the fore — ironically, in an opinion that does not substantively discuss the RESPA issues.  Continue Reading Latest PHH v. CFPB Ruling Brings RESPA and CFPB Enforcement Approaches Back in Focus

2018 has a tough act to follow, after a 2017 full of momentous developments—starting with a new Administration and wrapping up with a showdown over the right to serve as Acting Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) (a fight that continues as of this writing, as discussed below).

But 2018 is unlikely to be a quiet year. In addition to developments in the CFPB leadership battle and other litigation, the year is expected to bring developments such as effective and compliance dates for major regulations on data protection, Bank Secrecy Act/anti-money-laundering (BSA/AML), mortgage servicing, and other topics, and could bring changes in supervisory focus at multiple federal agencies.  Continue Reading Fasten Your Seatbelts: Are You Ready for Another Eventful Year?

On June 12, 2017, the United States Supreme Court held that a buyer of defaulted consumer debt was not subject to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”). The question of whether such debt buyers fit within the FDCPA’s definition of “debt collector” has long been a subject of contention. While this result will not shield debt buyers entirely from the FDCPA’s purview, it does provide additional defenses against FDCPA liability and has broad potential implications for other consumer protection actions.

In Henson v. Santander Consumer USA, the petitioner had defaulted on a car loan owed to CitiFinancial Auto, which then sold the debt to Santander, which attempted to collect on the debt. The petitioner alleged that Santander’s collection methods violated the FDCPA. Continue Reading Debt Buyers Get Some FDCPA Relief from Supreme Court: Case Offers Insights But Leaves Some Questions Unanswered

On May 24, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit heard oral arguments in the case of PHH vs. CFPB. The case, arising out of a CFPB enforcement action under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), also addresses the fundamental issue of whether the CFPB’s leadership structure is permissible under the Constitution.   

The en banc consideration of the case followed the opinion of a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit that found the Bureau’s structure unconstitutional because it features a single director who is not removable at will by the President. While other federal agencies are led by a single person—including a fellow financial regulator, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC)—the court dismissed the similarity in a footnote, distinguishing the OCC structure in noting that the authorizing statutory language is not identical.  Continue Reading En Banc Oral Argument in PHH vs. CFPB Case Continues the CFPB Saga, Pits Federal Government Against Itself

In Johnston v. Midland Credit Mgmt., No. 16-437, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10610 (W.D. Mich. Jan. 26, 2017), the court recently dismissed a class action complaint alleging a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) for lack of Article III standing. Johnston is notable as the first FDCPA claim dismissed for lack of Article III standing in the Sixth Circuit. In addition, Johnston provides an interesting case study regarding some of the issues that may need to be considered prior to filing a motion premised on lack of Article III standing. Continue Reading A Case Study – Some Things to Consider When Challenging a Putative Consumer Class Action in Federal Court for Lack of Article III Standing

As has been reported in the news recently, there is increasing litigation asserting that the websites of some commercial enterprises, including financial institutions, are not accessible to consumers with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act was adopted before widespread adoption of the internet, but the Department of Justice and many courts have taken the position that the ADA’s prohibition of discrimination against anyone on the basis of disability in the use of “accommodations of any place of public accommodation” applies to websites as well as physical establishments. Continue Reading Watch for Litigation Concerning Website Accessibility to the Disabled to Rise

In Bravo v. Midland Credit Management, Inc., the plaintiff urged the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit to take a liberal view of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act’s (FDCPA) prohibition against contacting a consumer once he is represented by counsel, or after he has refused to pay a debt. The court dismissed all of plaintiff’s claims, shutting the door on an aggressive attempt to broaden the FDCPA’s reach.

Continue Reading Seventh Circuit Rejects Attempt to Expand Liability Under FDCPA