Articles Posted in Consumer Law

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Defendants are the nation’s largest distributors of pre-filled propane exchange tanks, which come in a standard size. Before 2008, Defendants filled the tanks with 17 pounds of propane. In 2008, due to rising prices, Defendants reduced the amount in each tato 15 pounds, maintaining the same price. Plaintiffs, indirect purchasers, who bought tanks from retailers, claimed this effectively raised the price. In 2009, plaintiffs filed a class action alleging conspiracy under the Sherman Act. Plaintiffs settled with both Defendants. In 2014, the Federal Trade Commission issued a complaint against Defendants, which settled in 2015 by consent orders, for conspiring to artificially inflate tank prices. In 2014, another group of indirect purchasers (Ortiz) brought a class action against Defendants, alleging: “Despite their settlements, Defendants continued to conspire, and ... maintained their illegally agreed-upon fill levels, preserving the unlawfully inflated prices." The Ortiz suit became part of a multidistrict proceeding that included similar allegations by direct purchasers (who bought tanks directly from Defendants for resale). The Eighth Circuit reversed the dismissal of the direct-purchaser suit as time-barred, holding that each sale in a price-fixing conspiracy starts the statutory period running again. The court subsequently held that the indirect purchasers inadequately pled an injury-in-fact and lack standing to pursue an injunction to increase the fill levels of the tanks and may not seek disgorgement of profits. View "Ortiz v. Ferrellgas Partners, L.P." on Justia Law

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At issue in this appeal was the certification of a class composed of individuals whose payment card information was compromised as a result of the 2013 Target security breach. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's recertification of the class on remand, holding that the district court did not err in certifying the proposed class, which included both persons who suffered an actual financial loss and those who had not yet suffered a loss. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by including the costs of notice and administration expenses as a benefit to the class as a whole in calculating the total benefit to the class, and in finding that the settlement agreement was fair, reasonable, and adequate. Finally, the court affirmed the attorneys' fee award. View "Sciaroni v. Target Corp." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Accounts Receivable in an action under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. 1692 et seq. The court held that the district court did not err by applying the materiality standard to the relevant provisions of the Act; Accounts Receivable's inadequate documentation of the assignment did not constitute a materially false representation, and the other alleged inaccuracies in the exhibits were not material; and Accounts Receivable did not commit unfair practices and violate the Act by trying to collect interest under Minnesota Statutes 549.09. View "Hill v. Accounts Receivable Services, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Consumer Law

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The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment against Specialized Loan Servicing, in an action alleging violations of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) and the Minnesota Mortgage Originator and Servicer Licensing Act. The court held that plaintiff failed to prove actual damages under RESPA and therefore he failed to establish an essential element of his federal claim. In this case, the bank records that plaintiff obtained for 2012 and 2013 were irrelevant to the dispute whether his loan payments were past due before June 2011. In the alternative, plaintiff did not produce evidence to support a finding of "pattern or practice" here, and there was no evidence that Specialized failed to investigate and respond reasonably to qualified written requests from other borrowers. Consequently, the court reversed as to the state law claim as well. The court remanded with directions to enter summary judgment for Specialized on the RESPA claim and for further proceedings on the claim under the Minnesota Act. View "Wirtz v. Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on remand in favor of defendants in an action filed by mortgage loan borrowers alleging violation of the Truth in Lending Act (TILA). Specifically, borrowers alleged that the lender did not provide the required number of copies of the required notice and material disclosures, and thus borrowers could rescind their loan on a date just shy of the three-year anniversary of loan execution. The court held that the district court did not err in determining that the signed acknowledgement borrowers had executed created a rebuttable presumption that they received the required number of copies and that borrowers' evidence was insufficient to overcome that rebuttable presumption. View "Jesinoski v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on remand in favor of defendants in an action filed by mortgage loan borrowers alleging violation of the Truth in Lending Act (TILA). Specifically, borrowers alleged that the lender did not provide the required number of copies of the required notice and material disclosures, and thus borrowers could rescind their loan on a date just shy of the three-year anniversary of loan execution. The court held that the district court did not err in determining that the signed acknowledgement borrowers had executed created a rebuttable presumption that they received the required number of copies and that borrowers' evidence was insufficient to overcome that rebuttable presumption. View "Jesinoski v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's complaint alleging that Gurstel violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. 1692k(d), while collecting a consumer debt. The court held that plaintiff's brief did in fact challenge the district court's statute-of-limitations holding, and the district court should have focused on plaintiff's allegation and determined whether he plausibly alleged that Gurstel violated the FDCPA on that date. The court also held that plaintiff plausibly pleaded that Gurstel threatened to go to trial, but did not intend to proceed to trial when requesting the continuance, in violation of section 1692e(5), and the district court erred by dismissing plaintiff's claim that Gurstel's letter and discovery requests violated section 1692f(1). Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Demarais v. Gurstel Chargo, P.A." on Justia Law

Posted in: Consumer Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against several financial entities for foreclosing on a mortgage loan. The district court granted summary judgment for defendants. At issue were plaintiffs' claims under the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MMPA), Mo. Rev. Stat. 407.020. The court affirmed and held that the foreclosure was justified because defendants had a right to foreclose on the house and thus the MMPA claim failed as a matter of law because the loss was not caused by any misconduct on behalf of defendants. Likewise, plaintiffs' tortious interference claim failed because the foreclosure was legal. View "Wheatley v. JP Morgan Chase Bank" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit alleging that GCF violated the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), 15 U.S.C. 1601 et seq., by failing to clearly and conspicuously disclose the annual percentage rate (APR) and finance charge in his Retail Installment and Security Contract. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of plaintiff's motion for judgment as a matter of law where the Summary of Understanding was not completely integrated; the district court thus did not err in admitting parol evidence; and there was sufficient evidence to support GCF's affirmative defense of waiver. The court also affirmed the district court's denial of plaintiff's motion for a new trial where there was no record of what objections plaintiff would have raised had the district court turned on "white noise" during the initial portion of the trial, nor was he prejudiced; even if the district court erred by not sustaining plaintiff's objection to GCF's counsel's statement during closing argument, the statement was not such a magnitude that a new trial was warranted; the court rejected plaintiff's claims of error as to the discretionary evidentiary rulings; and there was no error in the district court's response to a jury question. View "Smiley v. Gary Crossley Ford, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Banking, Consumer Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Fairview, alleging that the company made unauthorized telemarketing calls in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), 47 U.S.C. 227. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of Fairview's motion to dismiss, holding that whether consent is an affirmative defense is irrelevant to the Rule 12(b)(6) inquiry; the exhibits at issue were documents embraced by the pleadings that may be considered by the court; the district court did not commit plain error in concluding that the documents were properly authenticated documents reflecting an aspect of the parties' contractual relationship; given the contractual relationship alleged in the complaint, the district court did not err in considering the documents as reflecting plaintiff's pre-purchase consent; and Fairview's telemarketing calls were within the scope of the consent established. View "Zean v. Fairview Health Services" on Justia Law

Posted in: Consumer Law