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  • Buckley Sandler Special Alert: D.C. Circuit significantly narrows FCC’s order defining autodialer


    On March 16, the D.C. Circuit issued its much anticipated ruling in ACA International v. FCC. The D.C. Circuit’s ruling significantly narrows a Federal Communication Commission order from 2015, which, among other things, had broadly defined an “autodialer” for purposes of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

    The D.C. Circuit struck down the FCC’s broad definition of an autodialer reasoning that the FCC’s definition “unreasonably, and impermissibly” included all smartphones and that it failed to adequately describe what functions qualify a device as an autodialer. The D.C. Circuit turned next to the FCC’s treatment of calls to reassigned numbers. Under the FCC’s 2015 order, a caller who had consent could make one liability free call to a phone number after reassignment. The D.C. Circuit struck down the one call rule on the basis that it was “arbitrary and capricious” and, in doing so, also struck down the FCC’s interpretation that a “called party” refers to the new subscriber.

    While the D.C. Circuit struck down the FCC’s definition of an autodialer and the FCC’s one call rule, it did not provide guidance on application of the TCPA going forward—leaving courts and callers to grapple with the meaning of the TCPA’s statutory language.

    Finally, the D.C. Circuit upheld the FCC’s conclusion that a called party can revoke consent for purposes of the TCPA through any reasonable means.

    If you have questions about the ruling or other related issues, please visit our Class Actions practice page, or contact a Buckley Sandler attorney with whom you have worked in the past.

    Courts FCC Appellate D.C. Circuit TCPA Special Alerts

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  • 9th Circuit denies bank’s challenge to FDIC bank secrecy order


    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

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  • District Court denies payment company’s request to set aside judgment


    On March 12, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California denied a company’s post-trial motions to set aside September 2017 judgments in a lawsuit brought by the CFPB for alleged violations of the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA). Specifically, the bi-weekly payments company requested that the court set aside its injunction and reconsider a $7.93 million penalty in light of “new evidence” that demonstrated the company’s inability to pay the penalty. As previously covered by Infobytes, the CFPB filed the lawsuit in 2015, alleging, among other things, that the company made misrepresentations to consumers about its bi-weekly payment program by overstating the savings provided by the program and creating the impression the company was affiliated with the consumers’ lender. In denying the company’s motion, the court held that the company failed to present new evidence that would justify the relief. Additionally, the court rejected the argument that the permanent injunction placed on the company was overly burdensome, stating “in light of the evidence of defendants[’] prior practices…the limitations of the injunction reflect appropriate safeguards ‘to avoid deception of the consumer.’”

    Courts CFPB Payment Processors UDAAP CFPA

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  • 9th Circuit reinstates class action data breach lawsuit against online retailer


    On March 8, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit reinstated a putative class action lawsuit against an online retailer, concluding that the increased risk of identity theft resulting from a 2012 data breach affecting over 24 million shoppers gave consumers Article III standing to sue. 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 the stolen information provided hackers the “means to commit fraud or identity theft.” The panel noted that evidence that another group of consumers had suffered financial losses from the same data breach undermined the argument that the data stolen would not lead to fraud or identity theft. In addition, although the defendant asserted that too much time had passed since the data breach for any harm to be considered imminent, the panel found that determining jurisdiction requires an assessment of a plaintiff’s standing at the time the suit was filed, and that the risk of harm was sufficiently imminent at the time of filing. The 9th Circuit remanded the case back to the lower court for review.

    The panel also addressed a separate appeal by the class on the district court’s decision not to enforce a purported settlement agreement, affirming the lower court’s decision “because the parties did not have a meeting of the minds on all essential terms of the agreement.”

    Courts Ninth Circuit Appellate Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security Data Breach Class Action

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  • 2nd Circuit finds bankruptcy claim non-arbitrable


    On March 7, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit denied a bank’s motion to compel arbitration, holding that arbitration of the debtor’s claims would present an inherent conflict with the intent of the Bankruptcy Code because the dispute concerns a core bankruptcy proceeding. The debtor’s claims against the bank relate to a purported refusal to remove a “charge-off” status on the debtor’s credit file after the debtor was released from all dischargeable debts through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The bankruptcy court allowed the debtor to reopen the proceeding in order to file a putative class action complaint against the bank alleging that the designation amounted to coercion to pay a discharged debt. The bank moved to compel arbitration, based on a clause in the debtor’s cardholder agreement, and the court denied the motion. On appeal, the district court affirmed the bankruptcy court’s decision. In affirming both lower courts’ decisions, the 2nd Circuit reasoned that a claim of coercion to pay a discharged debt is an attempt to undo the effect of the discharge order and, therefore, “strikes at the heart of the bankruptcy court’s unique powers to enforce its own orders.” The circuit court found the debtor’s complaint to be non-arbitrable based on a conclusion that it would create an inherent conflict with the intent of the bankruptcy code.

    Courts Second Circuit Arbitration Bankruptcy Appellate

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  • Judge orders student loan servicer to comply with CFPB CID


    On February 28, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania granted the CFPB’s petition to enforce a Civil Investigative Demand (CID) issued against a student loan servicer. According to the opinion, the student loan servicer filed a petition with the CFPB to set aside a June 2017 CID because the statutorily-mandated Notification of Purpose did not comply with the Bureau’s notice requirements under 12 U.S.C. § 5562(c)(2). The loan servicer argued that the CID’s list of activities under investigation—i.e., processing payments, charging fees, transferring loans, maintaining accounts, and credit reporting—failed to provide the servicer with fair notice as to the nature of the investigation because it “merely categorize[s] all aspects of a student loan servicing operation.” The CFPB denied the petition, and in November 2017, filed a petition in court to enforce the CID. In granting the Bureau’s petition, the court found that the Notification of Purpose met the statutory notice requirements because nothing in the law bars the CFPB “from investigating the totality of a company’s business operations.” Moreover, the court also found that the CID’s Notification of Purpose met the necessary requirements regarding administrative subpoenas set forth by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, concluding that the investigation is for a “legitimate purpose,” the information requested is relevant and not already known by the Bureau, and the request is not unreasonably broad or burdensome.

    Courts CFPB Student Lending CIDs Appellate Third Circuit

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  • California district court rules social media company cannot dismiss non-users’ facial scan privacy claims


    On March 2, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California denied a motion to dismiss an action for lack of standing in a lawsuit brought under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) against a social media company (defendant) for allegedly collecting and storing non-user facial scans. The action was similar to a consolidated class action lawsuit brought by users of the site in 2016. The court found that the factual difference between the two cases (one involving users and one involving non-users) was irrelevant for its Article III analysis. Citing to his February 26 decision (February decision) in the related case, the judge concluded that the abrogation of the plaintiffs’ procedural rights under BIPA, which allow users to control their biometric information, amounted to a concrete injury under Article III. As the court noted in the February decision: “BIPA vested in Illinois residents the right to control their biometric information by requiring notice before collection and giving residents the power to say no by withholding consent,” and that there is “equally little doubt . . . that a violation of BIPA’s procedures would cause actual and concrete harm.” The court rejected the defendant’s argument that it did not store non-users’ biometric information, stating that such factual evidence, which is disputed by the plaintiffs, goes to the merits of the case and cannot be weighed or resolved at the motion to dismiss stage.

    Courts Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security Class Action State Issues

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  • Pennsylvania judge partially dismisses action against investors of an online lending scheme


    On January 26, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania partially dismissed an action brought by the Pennsylvania Attorney General against out-of-state investors of an online payday lender and the lender for violating Pennsylvania’s Corrupt Organizations Act (COA). The Attorney General alleged that an online payday lender and the investors “designed, implemented, and profited from a consumer lending scheme to circumvent the usury laws of states.” The alleged conduct, which the court referred to generally as “rent-a-bank” and “rent-a-tribe” schemes, involved the online lender partnering with an out-of-state bank and later with tribal nation to act as the nominal lenders of the loans. The investors moved to dismiss the claims against them, arguing that the court lacked personal jurisdiction over them and that the Attorney General failed to plead sufficient allegations with respect to the investors’ involvement in the “rent-a-bank” scheme. The court rejected the jurisdictional arguments, holding that even though the investors were a Delaware LLC with no physical connection to the state, their participation in a scheme targeting Pennsylvania consumers constituted sufficient minimum contacts. However, the court dismissed the “rent-a-bank” aspects of the complaint as to the investors because it found that the Attorney General failed to allege that they were anything more than passive investors in the scheme.

    Courts Payday Lending State Attorney General Jurisdiction Lending

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  • 9th Circuit reverses lower court’s dismissal of TCPA claim


    On February 28, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit reinstated a consumer’s lawsuit against two banks on charges that the nearly 300 calls she received seeking payment of a debt may have violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The three-judge panel stated that the district court’s decision to dismiss the case on standing grounds was incorrect in light of a subsequent 9th Circuit ruling in a different case, which held that “a violation of the TCPA is a concrete, de facto injury.” The court further held that the TCPA is not limited to telemarketing calls, and that the unsolicited contact—“regardless of caller or content”—is evidence of “concrete harm” that can be traced back to the conduct at issue. Additionally, the panel also held that the district court erred in granting the banks’ request for summary judgment on the plaintiff’s claim under California’s Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and her claim for “intrusion upon seclusion,” finding that the banks’ actions “allegedly caused harm” to the plaintiff’s solitude. The court reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings.

    Courts Appellate Ninth Circuit TCPA Debt Collection

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  • 9th Circuit holds California's interest on escrow requirements is not preempted by federal law


    On March 2, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit held that a national bank must comply with a California law that requires mortgage lenders to pay interest on the funds held in a consumer’s escrow account because the law does not “prevent or significantly interfere” with the national bank’s exercise of its power. The case results from a 2014 lawsuit in which a consumer sued the national bank for refusing to pay interest on the funds in his mortgage escrow account as required by a California state law. The district court dismissed the action, holding that the California state law interfered with the bank’s ability to perform its business making mortgage loans and therefore, was preempted by the National Bank Act (NBA).

    In reversing the district court’s decision, the 9th Circuit held that the Dodd-Frank Act of 2011 (Dodd-Frank) essentially codified the existing 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 (“if prescribed by applicable State or Federal law, each creditor shall pay interest to the consumer on the amount held in any . . . escrow account that is subject to this section in the manner as prescribed by that applicable State or Federal law”), 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.” Moreover, the panel disagreed with the national bank’s reliance on the OCC’s 2004 preemption regulation, which interpreted the standard more broadly, by concluding that the regulation had no effect on the preemption standard. This decision could have significant implications for the rise of preemption by federally chartered banks.

    Courts U.S. Supreme Court Appellate Ninth Circuit Mortgages Escrow Preemption National Bank Act Dodd-Frank OCC

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