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Emerging Trend: Another Federal Court Finds that Predictive Dialers Fall Outside the TCPA's Definition of an ATDS

In 2018, the D.C. Court of Appeals issued ACA International, et al. v. FCC that set aside key determinations of the FCC's interpretations of what qualifies as an automated telephone dialer service (ATDS). The D.C. Circuit concluded that the focus of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act's (TCPA) definition of an ATDS should be on the device's "present capacity" to store and produce telephone numbers, as opposed to its "potential functionalities" or "future possibility." Since this decision, courts have remained split as to what qualifies as an ATDS, although there is a growing trend of courts concluding that a predictive dialer is not an ATDS unless it has the present capacity to store and produce phone numbers randomly and sequentially. On July 30, 2019, the Northern District of Texas joined that trend with its decision in Adams v. Safe Home Security Inc. More ›

Creditors Beware: Collection of Debt Based on Unreasonable Belief/Understanding That the Debt Was Not Discharged in Bankruptcy Might Lead to a Finding of Civil Contempt

In Taggart v. Lorenzen, the U.S. Supreme Court reviewed the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals' Order, which affirmed the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel's Order vacating civil contempt sanctions against Bradley Taggart's ("Bradley") creditors for violation of a Bankruptcy Court discharge Order. On certiorari to the Court, the central issue was to determine "what the appropriate criteria should be for a Court to hold a creditor in civil contempt for attempting to collect a debt that a discharge order has immunized from collection." And, SCOTUS adopted an objective standard, which creditors should be mindful of going forward. More ›

First Circuit Reverses Course in Closely-Watched Pre-Foreclosure Notice Decision, Defers to Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

Earlier this year, Hinshaw reported on a decision by the First Circuit Court of Appeals which invalidated a Massachusetts foreclosure based on the Court's determination that the mortgage loan servicer's notice of default included additional language which did not strictly comply with Paragraph 22 of the mortgage. In the wake of that decision, the servicer filed a petition for rehearing on several grounds, but primarily because the Code of Massachusetts Regulations required use of what the Court had characterized as additional language. The banking community also filed several amicus briefs in support of Chase's petition. More ›

Minnesota Decision Marks Growing Split Among Federal Circuits Regarding FCRA Liability for Failure to Mark a Tradeline as Disputed

A recent Minnesota federal court decision (Hrebal v. Nationstar Mortg. LLC) joined a growing number of courts across the country in finding that a creditor's failure to mark a tradeline as disputed can violate the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) without a consumer having to prove that a reasonable investigation could have uncovered an actual inaccuracy. This trend has created a split between courts in the Fourth, Eighth, and Eleventh Circuits and the First, Fifth, Seventh, and Ninth Circuits. More ›

U.S. Supreme Court Balks on Judicial Deference to FCC in TCPA Case, While Concurrence Led by Justice Kavanaugh Looks to Swing

TCPA litigators have been closely monitoring the U.S. Supreme Court's docket waiting for a ruling in the PDR Network case. At stake is what kind of judicial deference should be given to the FCC's interpretation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Specifically, the Court was set to decide whether the Hobbs Act required the District Court to accept the FCC's legal interpretation of the TCPA. Numerous decisions at both the District Court and Circuit levels have held that trial courts have no discretion to review an FCC order interpreting the TCPA, meaning that courts must provide these orders complete deference. More ›

Second Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Consumer Plaintiff Avila’s Challenge to the Safe Harbor She Established in Avila I

We previously discussed Avila v. Reliant (Avila II) and U.S. District Court Judge Spatt’s dismissal of a consumer’s attempt to sue on the “safe harbor” language she helped establish in Avila v. Riexinger & Associates (Avila I). As predicted, Avila II was appealed to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Although the Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal, the Court did not address Judge Spatt’s reasoning for the dismissal. More ›

FCC’s Robocall Ruling Raises Industry Concerns of Erroneous Blocking of Their Lawful Calls

While most Americans might breathe a sigh of relief upon learning of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC”) June 6, 2019 5-0 bipartisan vote authorizing phone companies to automatically identify and block unwanted robocalls, shielding us from those annoying voices describing the expiration of our car’s warranty, spoof numbers claiming fake tax bills, and the like, various trade groups have voiced concerns including the American Bankers Association, the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management, the Credit Union National Association, the National Retail Federation, and the Association of Credit and Collection Professionals. Chief among concerns for these groups is that the call blocking may not distinguish illegal telemarketing and scams from legitimate calls placed once a subscriber consents, as well as a lack of clear redress for any erroneous blocking. More ›

Seventh Circuit Awards Legal Costs and Implements a Major Reduction in Plaintiff's Requested Attorneys' Fees in a FCRA and FDCPA Claim

In Paz v. Portfolio Recovery Associates, a debtor sued for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Within a month of filing suit, the creditor invoked Rule 68 in making a formal offer to settle, and subsequently made two additional Rule 68 offers of judgment. The debtor never responded to these settlement offers, and later rejected a final offer to settle all claims, costs and attorneys' fees for $25,000. At trial, the debtor prevailed on both of his claims, but because the jury determined he had sustained no actual damages, his total recovery was limited to $1,000 in statutory damages. More ›

A Reminder for Borrowers: Post-Discharge Communications by Creditor Must Coerce or Harass in Order to Violate Bankruptcy Law

In Kirby v. 21 Mortg. Corp., the First Circuit Bankruptcy Appellate Panel examined the Kirbys' claim that the 19 written communications they received from their mortgage holder following their Chapter 7 discharge violated the Bankruptcy Code 524(a)(2)'s injunction. The Kirbys further claimed bankruptcy discharge violations arising from their mortgage holder's delivery of an escrow account disclosure, short sale letter, cash-for-keys letter, and right to cure notice for a total of 26 post-discharge bankruptcy communications. Below, we take a closer look at the decision and its comprehensive review of bankruptcy discharge law along with the process for determining whether a post-discharge correspondence violates the bankruptcy code's injunction. More ›

Massachusetts Mortgage Holders Beware — Foreclosure Winning Bids May Now Need to Consider Development Potential of a Property

Under Massachusetts law, a foreclosing lender has a duty of good faith and reasonable diligence to obtain the highest possible price for a property at auction. Until recently, it was considered appropriate for the lender to make a credit bid up to the amount owed on the mortgage in order to satisfy this duty. However, a recent decision by the Massachusetts Appeals Court has expanded the duty of good faith and reasonable diligence beyond a review of the property's assessed or appraised fair market value. A property's development potential may also need to be reviewed in order to calculate an acceptable winning bid. More ›

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