Skip to main content
Menu Icon Menu Icon
Close

InfoBytes Blog

Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

Filter

Subscribe to our InfoBytes Blog weekly newsletter and other publications for news affecting the financial services industry.

  • 9th Circuit holds that judicial foreclosure proceedings to collect unpaid HOA fees is debt collection under FDCPA

    Courts

    On June 25, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit held that judicial foreclosure proceedings to collect delinquent assessments and other charges that were owed to a homeowners association (HOA) represented by a law firm that was also a defendant in the case constitute “debt collection” under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The decision results from unpaid assessments owed to the HOA that had previously been settled in two prior suits. However, the homeowner (plaintiff-appellant) defaulted on both settlement agreements, and foreclosure proceedings commenced due to an acknowledgment contained within the second agreement, which recognized the HOA’s right to collect the debt by foreclosing on and selling her property. According to the order, the 9th Circuit first drew a distinction between judicial foreclosures and nonjudicial foreclosures. Nonjudicial foreclosures, the 9th Circuit opined, are not debt collections under the FDCPA because, under California law, they present no possibility of a deficiency judgment against the homeowner and recover nothing from the homeowner. However, the Court held that in this case, the judicial foreclosure created the possibility for a deficiency judgment against the homeowner and subsequent collection of money. Furthermore, since the law firm regularly collected debts owed to others, it was a debt collector, and the lower court’s contrary decision “cannot be reconciled with the language of the FDCPA.” The 9th Circuit reversed the lower court’s ruling that the defendants were not engaged in “debt collection” as defined by the FDCPA.

    However, because the lower court granted summary judgment to the defendants, it did not assess whether the plaintiff-appellant had suffered any damages from her claim that the defendants “misrepresented the amount of her debt and sought attorneys’ fees to which they were not entitled” during judicial proceedings. The 9th Circuit held that the law firm’s application for a writ of special execution included “accruing attorney fees,” implying that the fees had been approved by a court, as required by state law, when they had not. The 9th Circuit noted that the state trial court’s subsequent approval of the fee request did not mean the representation was accurate when it was made. The 9th Circuit remanded to allow the lower court to determine what damages, if any, were due the homeowner due to this violation.

    In a separate memorandum disposition, the 9th Circuit, however, affirmed in part the lower court’s order granting the defendants’ motion for summary judgment concerning the plaintiff-appellant’s time-barred claims, holding that “even the ‘least sophisticated debtor’ would not likely be misled by the communication—and lack of communication—at issue here, as Plaintiff cannot have reasonably believed that she had paid off the debt in question.”

    Courts Appellate Ninth Circuit Debt Collection Foreclosure FDCPA

    Share page with AddThis
  • 9th Circuit affirms credit reporting agency’s code data did not violate the FCRA

    Courts

    On May 29, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit affirmed summary judgment for a national credit reporting agency, holding that the company did not violate the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) in its reporting of short sales executed by the plaintiffs. The decision results from a proposed class action suit alleging that the credit reporting agency violated the FCRA by reporting short sales executed between 2010 and 2011 with code numbers that misreported the data as foreclosures. In September 2016, the lower court found that the credit reporting agency provided creditors with clear instructions on how to interpret the code system and Fannie Mae’s Desktop Underwriter program misinterpreted the “settled” code number “9” as a foreclosure, which was not the credit reporting agency’s fault. In affirming the lower court’s decision, the 9th Circuit held that the credit reporting agency “clearly and accurately disclosed to [consumers] all information that [the company] recorded and retained that might be reflected in a consumer report.” Additionally, the panel noted that the credit reporting agency was not required to report that Fannie Mae mishandled the code data when it became aware of it.

    Courts Ninth Circuit FCRA Credit Reporting Agency Short Sale Foreclosure Fannie Mae Appellate

    Share page with AddThis
  • 9th Circuit will not rehear interest on escrow preemption decision

    Courts

    On May 16, a panel of three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit denied the petition for an en banc rehearing of its March decision, which held that a California law that requires a bank to pay interest on escrow funds is not preempted by federal law. In addition to the national bank’s appeal for a rehearing, the OCC notably filed an amicus brief supporting the rehearing, arguing that the court “comprehensively misinterpreted” the Supreme Court’s 1996 decision Barnett Bank of Marion County v. Nelson. (Previously covered by InfoBytes here.) The panel noted that the full court had been advised of the bank’s petition for rehearing, and no judge had requested a vote on rehearing.

    Courts Ninth Circuit Appellate Mortgages Escrow Preemption National Bank Act Dodd-Frank OCC State Issues

    Share page with AddThis
  • OCC files amicus brief in support of rehearing in 9th circuit preemption decision

    Courts

    On April 24, the OCC filed an amicus curiae brief in support of an en banc rehearing of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit’s March decision, which held that a California law that requires the bank to pay interest on escrow funds is not preempted by federal law.  As previously covered by InfoBytes, the 9th Circuit held that the Dodd-Frank Act of 2011 (Dodd-Frank) essentially codified the existing National Bank Act (NBA) preemption standard from the 1996 Supreme Court decision in Barnett Bank of Marion County v. Nelson. 

    In a strongly worded brief, the OCC states that the court “errs in matters of fundamental importance to the national banking system” and “comprehensively misinterpreted” Barnett Bank and the cases upon which that decision rests.  The OCC specifically argues that the court misinterpreted the legal standard for preemption articulated by Barnett Bank, ignored applicable Supreme Court standards prescribing a test for reviewing preemptive regulations, improperly created a burden of proof on national banks to demonstrate Congressional intent as to preemption, and inappropriately imposed a higher bar for “large corporate banks” to show state law interference.  The OCC also argues that the court’s reliance on the effective dates of the Dodd-Frank provisions relied upon by the Court pre-date the transactions that were at issue in the case, and would therefore have no application to the facts of the case.

    This filing supports the national bank’s petition for en banc rehearing filed April 13 and previously covered by InfoBytes here.

    Courts Ninth Circuit Appellate Mortgages Escrow Preemption National Bank Act Dodd-Frank OCC State Issues

    Share page with AddThis
  • 9th Circuit denies online retailer’s petition for full panel review of decision on standing in data breach case

    Courts

    On April 20, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit denied an online retailer’s request to have the full bench reconsider the court’s March 8 ruling, which ruling held that the increased risk of fraud or identity theft from a data breach gave consumers Article III standing to sue. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the underlying action results from a 2012 data breach affecting over 24 million shoppers. Previously, the three-judge panel held that the district court erred in dismissing claims brought by consumers who did not allege financial losses as a result of the data breach because, among other things, the stolen information provided hackers the “means to commit fraud or identity theft.” The online retailer appealed the decision, asking the full panel to review. The panel disagreed, upholding the previous decision that the plaintiffs sufficiently alleged the risk of future harm.

    Courts Ninth Circuit Appellate Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security Data Breach Class Action U.S. Supreme Court

    Share page with AddThis
  • Bank petitions for rehearing of 9th Circuit preemption decision; OCC to file amicus brief in support of bank

    Courts

    On April 13, a national bank filed a petition for an en banc rehearing of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit’s March decision, which held that a California law that requires the bank to pay interest on escrow funds is not preempted by federal law. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the 9th Circuit held that the Dodd-Frank Act of 2011 (Dodd-Frank) essentially codified the existing National Bank Act (NBA) preemption standard from the 1996 Supreme Court decision in Barnett Bank of Marion County v. Nelson. The panel cited to Section 1639d(g)(3) of Dodd-Frank, which, according to the opinion, expresses Congress’ view that the type of law at issue does not “prevent or significantly interfere with a national bank’s operations” because the law does not “prevent or significantly interfere” with the national bank’s exercise of its power. Additionally, the 9th Circuit concluded that the OCC’s 2004 preemption regulation had no effect on the preemption standard.

    In its petition for rehearing, the bank argues that the 9th Circuit’s decision, if allowed to stand, “will create confusion regarding which state laws apply to national banks and restrict the terms on which they may extend credit” because the decision conflicts with previous decisions by the same court, the Supreme Court, and other circuits. The bank also acknowledges the OCC’s intent to file an amicus curiae brief in support of the petition no later than April 23.

    Courts Ninth Circuit Appellate State Issues Escrow National Bank Act Mortgages OCC Preemption

    Share page with AddThis
  • 9th Circuit amended opinion holds company not vicariously liable under TCPA

    Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security

    On April 4, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit issued an amended opinion to further affirm a district court’s decision to grant summary judgment in favor of a defendant concerning allegations that it was vicariously liable for telemarketing activity in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The three-judge panel held that the defendant, who sells vehicle service contracts (VSCs) through automobile dealers and “marketing vendors,” was not vicariously liable under the TCPA for calls made by telemarketers employed by a company that sold VSCs for the defendant and multiple other companies. Last August, the three-judge panel determined that the company’s telemarketers acted as independent contractors, rather than as the defendant’s agents. In amending their opinion, the three-judge panel further determined that the telemarketers lacked actual authority (under express language contained within the parties’ contract) to place the unlawful calls, and that the defendant “exercised insufficient control over the manner and means of the work to establish vicarious liability under the asserted theory.”

    Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security Courts TCPA Appellate Ninth Circuit

    Share page with AddThis
  • 9th Circuit affirms dismissal of claims alleging survey provider violated TCPA

    Courts

    On March 29, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit affirmed a district court’s decision to grant summary judgment in favor of a patient satisfaction survey provider (defendant), concluding that a plaintiff's signed enrollment form with her health insurance provider meant she granted “prior express consent” to receive calls from the defendant. According to the opinion, the plaintiff accused the defendant of allegedly violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) when it used an automatic telephone dialing system to repeatedly call her to inquire about the quality of her experience with a network physician. She later challenged the dismissal of her suit, arguing that the calls fell outside the scope of consent. However, in agreeing with the district court’s decision, the three-judge panel held that by providing her phone number on an insurance enrollment form that permitted the insurer to share her information for “quality improvement” and other purposes, the plaintiff had provided the level of consent required by the TCPA to receive calls from the defendant. While the court acknowledged that the plaintiff “could not have known the identity of the specific entity that would ultimately call her,” by authorizing the insurance company “to disclose her phone number for certain purposes, she necessarily authorized someone other than [the insurance company] to make calls for those purposes. Specifically, she authorized calls from entities to which [the insurance company] disclosed her information.” According to the panel, the defendant fell within that category.” The panel also rejected the plaintiff’s argument that the calls violated the TCPA because the defendant failed to demonstrate that it called her on the insurance company’s behalf, finding that there is “no statutory or logical basis for imposing such a requirement.”

    Courts Appellate Ninth Circuit TCPA

    Share page with AddThis
  • CFPB appeals $10 million order in payday lender suit

    Courts

    On March 27, the CFPB filed a notice of appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in response to a district court’s order that an online loan servicer and its affiliates pay a $10 million penalty for offering high-interest loans in states with usury laws barring the transactions—a penalty which fell far short of the $50 million the CFPB had requested. As previously covered in InfoBytes, the district court found that a lower statutory penalty was more appropriate than the CFPB’s requested amount because the CFPB failed to show the company “knowingly violated the CFPA.” It further rejected the Bureau’s request for restitution and denied a request for a permanent injunction. The notice of appeal seeks review of all parts of the final judgment as well as the parts of the findings of facts and conclusions of law that are adverse to its position.

    Courts CFPB Appellate Ninth Circuit Payday Lending

    Share page with AddThis
  • 9th Circuit denies bank’s challenge to FDIC bank secrecy order

    Courts

    On March 12, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upheld a 2016 FDIC cease and desist order against a California bank arising out of alleged deficiencies in compliance management relating to the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and anti-money laundering laws. According to the opinion, FDIC examinations dating back to 2010 identified areas for BSA compliance improvement. While the bank made adjustments in response to the original findings, a 2012 FDIC examination found the bank’s BSA compliance program still was deficient, including because it did not “establish and maintain procedures designed to ensure adequate internal controls, independent testing, administration, and training”—known as the “four pillars”—and because the bank had not filed a necessary suspicious activity report. The bank argued that the BSA compliance standards were too vague, accused FDIC examiners of bias during the examination in a manner that violated its due process rights, and alleged that the decision was not supported by substantial evidence.

    The three-judge panel ruled that (i) there was no bias in the FDIC’s decision to assess a penalty against the bank because there was substantial evidence to support an administrative law judge’s findings that the bank’s failure to maintain adequate controls violated BSA regulations; and (ii) because the BSA and FDIC’s implementing regulations are “economic in nature and threaten no constitutionally protected rights,” vagueness is not an overriding concern. While the “four pillars” of BSA compliance are open to interpretation, the panel noted, the FDIC provides banks with a manual written by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council that sets forth a uniform compliance standard. Furthermore, FDIC Financial Institution Letter 17-2010 clarifies that the manual contains the FDIC’s BSA compliance supervisory expectations. “A BSA Officer at the Bank bearing the requisite ‘specialized knowledge’ would understand that compliance with the FFIEC Manual ensures compliance with the BSA. . . . The BSA and its implementing regulations are not unconstitutionally vague,” the panel stated. Therefore, the 9th Circuit held that the manual was entitled to Chevron deference and denied the bank’s petition for review.

    Courts Appellate Ninth Circuit Bank Secrecy Act Anti-Money Laundering Compliance FDIC FFIEC

    Share page with AddThis

Pages