Justia Class Action Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Banking
Windesheim v. Larocca
Respondents, three married couples, obtained home equity lines of credit from Petitioners, a bank and its loan officer. Approximately four years later, Petitioners filed a putative class action alleging that these transactions were part of an elaborate “buy-first-sell-later” mortgage fraud arrangement carried out by Petitioners and other defendants. Petitioners alleged numerous causes of action, including fraud, conspiracy, and violations of Maryland consumer protection statutes. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Petitioners, concluding that the statute of limitations barred several of Respondents’ claims and that no Petitioner violated the Maryland Secondary Mortgage Loan Law as a matter of law. The Court of Special Appeals reversed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the Court of Special Appeals (1) erred in concluding that Respondents stated a claim upon which relief could be granted under the Maryland Secondary Mortgage Loan Law; and (2) erred in concluding that it was a question of fact to be decided by the jury as to whether Respondents’ claims against Petitioners were barred by the relevant statute of limitations. View "Windesheim v. Larocca" on Justia Law
Eminence Investors, LLLP v. Bank of New York Mellon
In 2011, Eminence Investors, LLLP (Plaintiff) brought suit against against The Bank of New York Mellon (Defendant). Nearly two years later, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint adding class allegations on behalf of more than 100 class members and requesting compensatory damages expected to exceed $10 million. Within thirty days of the filing of the complaint, Defendant removed the action to federal court pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA). Plaintiff moved to remand the case to state court. The district court remanded the case to state court, concluding that removal was untimely. Defendant appealed. A panel of the Ninth Circuit dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction the appeal, holding that the securities exception from CAFA removal applied to this case. View "Eminence Investors, LLLP v. Bank of New York Mellon" on Justia Law
Gelboim v. Bank of Am. Corp.
The London InterBank Offered Rate (LIBOR) is a reference point in determining interest rates for financial instruments in the U.S. and globally. The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) established a multidistrict litigation for cases alleging that banks understated their borrowing costs, depressing LIBOR and enabling the banks to pay lower interest rates on financial instruments sold to investors. Over 60 actions were consolidated, including the Gelboim class action, which raised a single claim that banks, acting in concert, had violated federal antitrust law. The district court dismissed all antitrust claims and granted certifications under Rule 54(b), which authorizes parties with multiple-claim complaints to immediately appeal dismissal of discrete claims. The Second Circuit dismissed the Gelboim appeal because the order appealed from did not dispose of all of the claims in the consolidated action. A unanimous Supreme Court reversed. The order dismissing their case in its entirety removed Gelboim from the consolidated proceeding, triggering their right to appeal under 28 U.S.C. 1291, which gives the courts of appeals jurisdiction over appeals from “all final decisions of the district courts.” Because cases consolidated for MDL pretrial proceedings ordinarily retain their separate identities, an order disposing of one of the discrete cases in its entirety qualifies under section 1291 as an appealable final decision. The JPML’s authority to transfer civil actions for consolidated pretrial proceedings, 28 U.S.C. 1407, refers to individual “actions,” not to a monolithic multidistrict “action” and indicates Congress’ anticipation that, during pretrial proceedings, final decisions might be rendered in one or more of the consolidated actions. The Gelboim plaintiffs are no longer participants in the consolidated proceedings. View "Gelboim v. Bank of Am. Corp." on Justia Law
Bank of the Ozarks, Inc. v. Walker
Appellees filed a class-action complaint against a Bank, asserting several claims arising from the Bank’s alleged practice of manipulating customers’ checking-account debit transactions to maximize the amount of overdraft fees charged to each customer. The Bank filed a motion to dismiss, or alternatively, a motion to compel arbitration based on an arbitration provision contained in the Deposit Agreement attached to Appellees’ complaint. In response, Appellees denied the existence of a valid arbitration agreement. The circuit court denied Bank’s motion, ruling that the arbitration provision was unconscionable and, thus, unenforceable. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because the circuit court did not find that there was a valid arbitration agreement, the case must be remanded to the circuit court to determine whether there was a valid agreement to arbitrate between the parties.View "Bank of the Ozarks, Inc. v. Walker" on Justia Law
State of Hawaii v. HSBC Bank of Nevada
The Hawaii AG filed suit in state court against six credit card providers, alleging that each violated state law by deceptively marketing and improperly enrolling cardholders in add-on credit card products. The card providers removed to federal court and the AG moved to remand. The district court denied the motion to remand. The court concluded that the state law claims were not preempted by the National Bank Act of 1864, 12 U.S.C. 85-86. The court joined the Fifth Circuit in holding that sections 85 and 86 did not completely preempt the claims, as there is a difference between alleging that certain customers are being charged too much, and alleging that they should have never been charged for the service in the first place. Therefore, the AG did not plead a completely preempted claim and the district court erred in finding federal question jurisdiction. The court agreed with its sister circuits in holding that the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA), 28 U.S.C. 1332(d), does not completely preempt state law. Because the complaints unambiguously disclaimed class status, these actions cannot be removed under CAFA. There is no basis for federal jurisdiction and the cases should have been remanded to state court. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "State of Hawaii v. HSBC Bank of Nevada" on Justia Law
S. Fin. Life Ins. Co. v. Pike Circuit Court
The underlying class action here was brought against Southern Financial Life Insurance Company, which sold credit life and disability insurance through lending institutions, by purchasers of Southern Financial's credit life and disability policies. During the discovery phase, the trial court entered an order compelling Southern Financial to produce certain loan information and documents regarding the putative class members and the insurance sold to them. Southern Financial did not comply with the order, arguing that the loan information was not in its "possession, custody or control" within the meaning of Ky. R. Civ. P. 34.01, but rather, the information was in the possession of the individual lenders. After applying principles of general agency law, the trial court overruled the objection. Southern Financial subsequently sought a writ of prohibition to prevent the trial court's enforcement of the discovery order. The court of appeals declined to issue a writ. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Southern Financial was legally in control of the information it was compelled to disclose in the trial court's order, and therefore, the trial court committed no error.View "S. Fin. Life Ins. Co. v. Pike Circuit Court" on Justia Law
Acosta v. Target Corp.
Target Guest Cards only permit purchases only at Target. Target Visa Cards are all-purpose credit cards that can be used anywhere. Target used different underwriting criteria and agreements for the cards. Between 2000 and 2006, Target sent unsolicited Visas to 10,000,000 current and former Guest Card holders, with agreements and marketing materials to entice activation of the new card. If a customer activated a new Visa, its terms became effective and the Guest Card balance was transferred to the Visa. If the customer did not activate the Visa, Target closed the account. The materials did not suggest that keeping the Guest Card was an option, but customers could opt out. A Guest Card holder could call Target to reject the Visa but ask to keep the Guest Card. If a holder attempted to use the Guest Card after the Visa was mailed, she was informed that the account had been closed but that she could reopen it. The credit limits on the Autosubbed Visas were between $1,000 and $10,000, and Target could change the credit limit. New customers had to open a Target Visa through a standard application, and cards could have credit limits as low as $500. The Autosub materials did not indicate that credit limits were subject to change; customers often had their credit limits reduced after activation. The district court rejected a putative class action under the Truth in Lending Act, 15 U.S.C. 1642, which prohibits mailing unsolicited credit cards and requires credit card mailings to contain certain disclosures in a “tabular format.” The Seventh Circuit affirmed. View "Acosta v. Target Corp." on Justia Law
Wheelahan v. Trans Union LLC
Beginning in 1998, consumer class actions were filed against Trans Union alleging violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. 1681, by selling consumer information to target marketers and credit and insurance companies. The court approved a settlement. Trans Union agreed to give all class members “basic” credit monitoring services. Class members could also either claim cash from a $75 million fund or claim “enhanced” in-kind relief consisting of additional financial services. Trans Union was to provide $35 million worth of enhanced relief. The class was estimated at 190 million people. The Act authorizes damages of between $100 and $1000 per consumer for willful violations, so Trans Union faced theoretically possible liability of $190 billion. To persuade the court to approve the settlement, the parties agreed to an unusual provision that preserved substantive claims after settlement. Instead of releasing their claims, class members who did not get cash or enhanced in-kind relief retained the right to bring individual claims. Trans Union also partially waived the limitations period. The settlement authorized reimbursements from the fund to Trans Union itself “equal to any amounts paid to satisfy settlements or judgments arising from Post-Settlement Claims,” not including defense costs. There have been more PSCs than expected, depleting the fund. In a second appeal, the Seventh Circuit affirmed the orders authorizing disbursement of the remainder of the fund. View "Wheelahan v. Trans Union LLC" on Justia Law
Quicken Loans Inc. v. Alig
Plaintiffs filed suit in state court alleging that Quicken Loans originated unlawful loans in West Virginia and that Defendant Appraisers, which included both the named appraisers and the unnamed class of appraisers, were complicit in the scheme. Quicken Loans removed to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), 28 U.S.C. 1332(d). The district court then granted plaintiffs' motion to remand to state court under the local controversy exception. Quicken Loans appealed. The court vacated and remanded for a determination by the district court as to whether the named defendant appraisers satisfied the "at least 1 defendant" requirement of the local controversy exception. View "Quicken Loans Inc. v. Alig" on Justia Law
Union Countyv. Merscorp, Inc.
MERSCORP operates an online membership organization that records, trades, and forecloses loans on behalf of many lenders. Banks can register their mortgages on the system and assign the mortgages to MERSCORP, which then records them in the counties in which the mortgaged properties are located. MERSCORP has no financial interest in the mortgages. The underlying debts can be repeatedly assigned without transfers being recorded in a public‐records office, facilitating successive interbank sales of mortgages, often to create mortgage‐backed securities. Union County, Illinois filed a class action suit on behalf of all Illinois counties against MERSCORP and banks that do business with MERSCORP, claiming that MERSCORP is violating a statute that requires every Illinois mortgage be recorded; 765 ILCS 5/28 provides that deeds, mortgages, powers of attorney, and other instruments relating to or affecting the title to real estate “shall be recorded in the county in which such real estate is situated.” The district court dismissed, holding that Illinois law does not require that mortgages be recorded, without deciding whether to certify it as a class action. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, declining to certify the issue to the Illinois Supreme Court. View "Union Countyv. Merscorp, Inc." on Justia Law