Showing 7 posts from April 2017.

Selling a Car, Texting and the TCPA

After a car dealership (allegedly) texted a person who listed a car for sale on Craiglist, the would be seller filed a class action suit against the dealer claiming the texts were unsolicited, made without consent, and violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).

The Florida federal court, in light of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, 136 S. Ct. 1540 (2016) ordered briefing on whether texting created standing for the Craiglist seller to sue. On review, the federal court concluded receiving prohibited text messages and calls amount to sufficiently concrete and particularized harm. The court acknowledged other cases from around the country in which courts held that violations of the TCPA alone do not create injury for standing to sue but disagreed with this analysis.  Instead, just the unsolicited telephone contact was the injury and any analysis of how the person was contacted does not matter for standing.  With ongoing disagreement among courts throughout the country on what constitutes an injury sufficient to bring suit in federal court, expect rulings to continue to come down on both sides of the issue until the appellate courts provide further guidance.

The case is Mohamed v. Off Lease Only, Inc., Case No. 15-23352-Civ-COOKE/TORRES.

6 Ways to Achieve Compliance without an Audit

No doubt there is a need for compliance audits. I do them. You do them. Almost every regulatory & compliance lawyer and consulting company that exists does them. In fact, some state and federal laws mandate that you do a compliance audit. You can do them internally, you can do them externally, and you can run yourself in circles trying to make someone who matters realize the value in implementing changes that result from the audit.

Realistically, there are only so many traffic signals and stop signs you can yield to. In the first of a recurring series of Compliance Corner posts, we're going to look at 6 practical tips you can implement without a formal compliance audit that will either stave off the regulators, or make a couple of zeros drop off their demand (I mean before the decimal point). Even if you've had a terrible experience interacting with a government agency, and you just don't buy that these efforts will matter to them, these tips will help you to build better relationships with your customers. More ›

87 Debt Collection Calls in 3 Weeks? Maybe too much

We return to the issue of retail debt collection with a case out of Illinois in which a federal judge has asked a jury to decide if a debt collection agency’s constant calling to a Banana Republic credit card holder violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The debt collector called the cardholder three to five times each day, with no two calls made less than two hours apart, for a total of eighty-seven calls between December 5 and December 23. On the 87th call, the cardholder answered and told the debt collector she could not pay the debt and to stop phoning her. Even though the debt collector did not call the cardholder again, the federal court refused summary judgment and decided a jury should review whether the volume and pattern of calling amounted to harassment under the FDCPA. We previously reported on a case out of California where a federal judge dismissed an FDCPA claim under the same circumstances and against the same debt collector. More ›

Franz Kafka, Sisyphus, and Foreclosures: Bank of America Fined $45 Million by Bankruptcy Court For Violation of Automatic Stay

"Franz Kafka lives. This automatic stay violation case reveals that he works at Bank of America." Thus begins an opinion stretching over 100 pages in length in which United States Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Klein fined Bank of America over $45 million for what he found to be an egregious violation of the automatic bankruptcy stay.

According to the order, the Sundquists, at the behest of advice given them by Bank of America, defaulted on their real property loan in 2009 so that they could be considered for a loan modification. The court found that this was followed by a "'multi-year 'dual tracking" game of cat-and-mouse" by Bank of America, which included repeated requests for information which had grown stale and incomprehensible denials of applications. Most central to the court's holding was that, although the Sundquists filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition in June 2010, Bank of America proceeded with a foreclosure sale even though it had notice of the Sundquists' bankruptcy case. Clearly meaning to send a signal which would be heard in the bank's highest offices (in addition to Kafka, the opinion also references the myth of Sisyphus and the Watergate scandal), the court was clearly moved by the emotional distress documented by the plaintiffs (which included discussions of suicide attempts). More ›

Nearly Fifty Debt Collector Calls in Two Weeks a Legitimate FDCPA Practice

A debt collector seeking to collect on a GAP credit card debt placed 49 telephone calls over the course of 18 days. The cardholder filed suit, arguing the calls constituted harassment under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Specifically, the cardholder stated that he had to stop what he was doing every time the phone rang, which not only disrupted and distracted him from his daily activities, but also caused frustration and anxiety. 

A California federal court disagreed, finding the call frequency did not constitute harassment under the FDCPA because the debt collector waited at least 90 minutes between each call, did not contact the cardholder more than five times in a single day, and never left any voicemails. The court concluded the volume of calls resulted from the collector's inability to reach the cardholder, and that the number of attempts were legitimate and reasonable in light of the collector's unsuccessful efforts to reach the cardholder. Download a copy of the decision issued in Hinderstein v. Advanced Call Center Technologies, et al., Case No. CV-15-10017-DTB (C.D.Cal. Feb. 27, 2017)

No RESPA Claim for Violation of Written Acknowledgement Requirement under Regulation X

Last summer, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) published its final rule amending existing mortgage servicer rules in Regulation X of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA). Recently, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals had the opportunity to determine what kind of damages might arise from a violation of Regulation X’s written acknowledgment requirement.

The answer in this case was no concrete harm, with the Court affirming dismissal of a borrower's claim for violations of the 5 day written response acknowledgment provision of 12 C.F.R. § 1024.36(c). The borrower had sued his mortgage loan servicer for RESPA violations after his lawyer sent the servicer a Request for Information certified mail return receipt requested, and the servicer responded by returning the certified mail green card and by providing a substantive response 9 days later. More ›

A Spike in Student Loan Defaults Likely to Trigger Follow-on Litigation Surge

The student lending industry should pay close attention to the onslaught of litigation that mortgage loan servicers have faced for years. I recently authored an article on this topic for Law360. A Consumer Federation of America analysis has indicated that student loan defaults have risen at least 14 percent since 2015. Such a trend will likely make student lending market participants susceptible to increased regulatory scrutiny, and could also result in a spike in follow-on private litigation. More ›