Articles Posted in Consumer Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the dismissal of an action against a debt collector under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. 1692 et seq. The panel remanded for further proceedings, holding that federal law preempts a private party's use of state execution procedures to acquire and destroy a debtor's FDCPA claims against it. The panel explained that such a procedure frustrates the Act's purpose. View "Arellano v. Clark County Collection Service" on Justia Law

Posted in: Consumer Law

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California consumers who can seek in California state court an order requiring the manufacturer of an allegedly falsely advertised product to cease the false advertising may also seek such an order in federal court. A consumer's inability to rely in the future upon a representation made on a package, even if the consumer knew or continued to believe the same representation was false in the past, is an ongoing injury that may justify an order barring the false advertising.The Ninth Circuit reversed the dismissal of an action alleging that Kimberly-Clark falsely advertised that four cleansing wipes they manufactured and sold were flushable. The action was filed in state court and then removed to federal court. The panel held that plaintiff plausibly alleged that Kimberly-Clark engaged in false advertising and that she will suffer further harm in the absence of an injunction. Accordingly, the panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Davidson v. Kimberly-Clark Corp." on Justia Law

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A liability insurance policy that unequivocally and broadly excludes coverage for invasion of privacy claims also excludes coverage for Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) claims. After Federal denied insurance coverage and declined to defend the Lakers in an underlying suit for invasion of privacy, the Lakers filed suit against Federal for breach of contract and tortious breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the suit under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The panel held that a TCPA claim was inherently an invasion of privacy claim and thus Federal correctly concluded that the underlying TCPA claim fell under the insurance policy's broad exclusionary clause. In this case, Federal did not breach the policy, or the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, under any cognizable legal theory, when it declined to defend against or cover the underlying complaint. View "LA Lakers v. Federal Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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Anaya Law Group, a debt collector, filed suit in state court to collect an unpaid credit card debt, but the complaint overstated both debtor's principal due and the applicable interest rate. Debtor then filed suit against Anaya in federal court for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. 1692 et seq., and of California's Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The district court granted summary judgment to Anaya. The Ninth Circuit held, however, that the false statements made by Anaya were material because they could have disadvantaged a hypothetical debtor in deciding how to respond to the complaint. Accordingly, the panel vacated summary judgment as to the FDCPA claim and remanded. In regard to the Rosenthal Act claim, the panel affirmed summary judgment on an alternative ground. The panel held that Anaya corrected the misstatements within fifteen days of discovering the violation and thus satisfied the requirements necessary to avail itself of a defense under the Rosenthal Act. View "Afewerki v. Anaya Law Group" on Justia Law

Posted in: Banking, Consumer Law

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To establish a concrete injury for purposes of Article III standing, the plaintiff must allege a statutory violation that caused him to suffer some harm that actually exists in the world. There must be an injury that is "real" and not "abstract" or merely "procedural." On remand from the Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of an action alleging willful violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), 15 U.S.C. 1681 et seq. In this case, plaintiff alleged that Spokeo failed to follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy of the information in his consumer report. The panel was satisfied that plaintiff had alleged injuries that were sufficiently concrete for the purposes of Article III; the alleged injuries were also sufficiently particularized to plaintiff and they were caused by Spokeo's alleged FCRA violations and were redressable in court; and therefore plaintiff had adequately alleged the elements necessary for standing. Accordingly, the court remanded. View "Robins v. Spokeo, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against Royal under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), 47 U.S.C. 227, seeking to hold Royal vicariously liable for several telephone calls made by telemarketers employed by AAAP. The Ninth Circuit applied the ten non-exhaustive factors set forth in the Restatement (Second) of Agency 220(2) (1958), and found that AAAP's telemarketers were acting as independent contractors rather than as Royal's agents. Therefore, the court held that Royal was not vicariously liable for the telephone calls and the district court properly granted summary judgment in favor of Royal. View "Jones v. Royal Administration Services" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit filed an amended opinion affirming in part and vacating in part the dismissal of plaintiff's action for failure to state a claim, holding that the trustee of a California deed of trust is a "debt collector" under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Actions taken to facilitate a non-judicial foreclosure, such as sending the notice of default and notice of sale, are not attempts to collect "debt" as that term is defined by the FDCPA; enforcement of a security interest will often involve communications between the forecloser and the consumer; and when these communications are limited to the foreclosure process, they do not transform foreclosure into debt collection. The panel explained that, because the money collected from a trustee's sale is not money owed by a consumer, it is not "debt" as defined by the FDCPA. In this case, the notices at issue did not request payment from plaintiff, but merely informed her that the foreclosure had begun, explained the timeline, and apprised her of her rights. Therefore, the panel held that ReconTrust's activities fell into the category of enforcement of a security interest, rather than general debt collection. View "Vien-Phuong Thi Ho v. ReconTrust" on Justia Law

Posted in: Banking, Consumer Law

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Serena Kwan appealed the dismissal of her second amended complaint for failing to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. In 2014, Kwan, On Behalf of Herself and All Others Similarly Situated, filed a class action against Defendants-Appellees, SanMedica International, LLC (“SanMedica”), and Sierra Research Group, LLC (“Sierra”), alleging violations of California’s Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”) and California’s Consumers Legal Remedies Act (“CLRA”). The complaint was based on an allegation that the defendants falsely represented that their product, SeroVital, provided a 682% mean increase in Human Growth Hormone (“HGH”) levels, that it was clinically tested, and that “peak growth hormone levels” were associated with “youthful skin integrity, lean musculature, elevated energy production, [and] adipose tissue distribution." The Ninth Circuit concluded the district court correctly concluded that California law did not provide for a private cause of action to enforce the substantiation requirements of California’s unfair competition and consumer protection laws. Further, the district court did not err in concluding that Kwan’s second amended complaint failed to allege facts that would support a finding that SanMedica International’s claims regarding its product, SeroVital, were actually false. Accordingly, the Court affirmed dismissal. View "Kwan v. Sanmedica Int'l" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against Nationstar and others, asserting claims relating to defendants' servicing of plaintiffs' home loan. Plaintiffs alleged violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. 1692-1692p; intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED); and a violation of the Nevada Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA), Nev. Rev. Stat. 598.0915–598.0925, 598.0934. The district court dismissed the complaint. The court concluded that the district court properly dismissed plaintiffs' claims of violations of sections 1692c(a)(2), 1692d, and 1692e pursuant to Ho v. ReconTrust Co. The court reasoned that Nationstar was not engaged in "debt collection" and thus defendants were not "debt collectors" when interacting with plaintiffs. The court concluded, however, that the district court erred in dismissing plaintiffs' claim under section 1692f(6) on the ground that Nationstar was not collecting a debt. The court explained that, unlike sections 1692c(a)(2), 1692d, and 1692e, the definition of debt collector under section 1692f(6) includes a person enforcing a security interest. In this case, plaintiffs alleged that Nationstar threatened to take non-judicial action to dispossess plaintiffs of their home without a legal ability to do so. The court noted that such conduct is exactly what section 1692f(6) protects borrowers against. Finally, the court concluded that the district court correctly dismissed plaintiffs' claims of IIED and of violation of the DTPA. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. View "Dowers v. Nationstar Mortgage" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, twenty individuals who purchased first generation four stroke outboard motors (the Class Motors), filed suit against defendants, alleging that the Class Motors contained an inherent design defect that caused severe, premature corrosion in the motors’ dry exhaust system. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants knew of the defect prior to the sales of the Class Motors to plaintiffs, and that the defect posed an unreasonable safety hazard. On appeal, plaintiffs challenged the district court's grant of YMC's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and its grant of YMUS's fifth motion to dismiss plaintiffs' consumer fraud claims. The court concluded that the district court lacked general jurisdiction over YMC because YMC does not have sufficient contacts with California; plaintiffs failed to plead facts sufficient to make out a prima facie case that YMC and YMUS were alter egos; and even assuming that YMUS's contacts could be imputed to YMC, this does not, on its own, suffice to establish general jurisdiction. The court also concluded that the district court lacked specific jurisdiction over YMC because plaintiffs do not allege any actions that YMC "purposefully directed" at California. Even assuming that some standard of agency continued to be relevant to the existence of specific jurisdiction pursuant to Daimler AG v. Bauman, plaintiffs failed to make out a prima facie case for any such agency relationship. Finally, the court concluded that plaintiffs failed to plead a prima facie case of consumer fraud where, although plaintiffs adequately pleaded defendants' presale knowledge of the defect, plaintiffs failed to plead the existence of an unreasonable safety hazard. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Williams v. Yamaha Motor Corp." on Justia Law