Justia U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Consumer Law
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Objectors challenged a class action settlement between plaintiff and Godiva for claims under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA). Over the objections, the district court approved the settlement, class counsel's request for attorney's fees, and an incentive award for plaintiff. The Eleventh Circuit held that class members who objected to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3) class settlements but did not opt out were "parties" for purposes of appeal. Determining that Article III standing requirements were satisfied, the court held on the merits that the district court did not abuse its discretion by awarding attorney's fees despite a Rule 23(h) violation; the district court properly assessed the risks faced by the class and the compensation secured by class counsel, and did not abuse its discretion by awarding an above-benchmark percentage of the common fund; and the district court did not abuse its discretion by granting a $10,000 incentive award to plaintiff as class representative. View "Muransky v. Godiva Chocolatier, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Via Varejo in an action brought by Direct Niche under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA), seeking to obtain a declaratory judgment that its registration and use of the domain name casasbahia.com was not unlawful under the ACPA. At issue on appeal was whether Via Varejo owned the Casas Bahia service mark in the United States. The court held that Via Varejo owns the Casas Bahia service mark in the United States where it contracted with U.S. companies to provide advertising of their goods on the Casas Bahia website. Furthermore, Via Varejo's marketing director testified to his personal knowledge that the Casas Bahia Website receives millions of visits every year from IP addresses located in the United States. Therefore, the district court's conclusion that the evidence demonstrated sufficient public use in commerce to establish ownership of the mark was not clearly erroneous. View "Direct Niche, LLC v. Via Varejo S/A" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Wells Fargo, a mortgage servicer, in an action alleging that Wells Fargo failed to conduct a reasonable investigation into the accuracy of its credit reporting of her mortgage loan, in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The court held that plaintiff could not prevail on her claim against Wells Fargo under section 1681s-2(b) of the FCRA without identifying some fact in the record establishing that the information Wells Fargo reported regarding her account was inaccurate or incomplete. In this case, regardless of whether plaintiff may have been confused about how her account would be reported to the credit rating agencies, and whether Wells Fargo could have better explained to her how the account would be reported, she did not meet her payment obligations under the note. Finally, any omissions did not render plaintiff's credit report misleading. View "Felts v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

Posted in: Banking, Consumer Law
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In 2011 and 2012, a number of individuals and closely held corporations known as Treasure Your Success (TYS) operated a fraudulent credit card interest reduction scheme. Universal Processing Services of Wisconsin, LLC (Universal) violated the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR), 16 C.F.R. 310.1 et seq., by providing substantial assistance to the TYS schemers. The district court found that a violation of the TSR constitutes an “unfair or deceptive act or practice” in violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act. As such, the district court was authorized to order restitution and disgorgement. Furthermore, the court clarified that substantial assistance under the TSR was itself sufficient to justify joint and several liability. The court reaffirmed its order holding Universal jointly and severally liable; Universal contended that was error and joint and several liability can only lie where the defendant is a participant in a common enterprise with the primary violators. The Eleventh Circuit concluded after review the district court did not abuse its discretion in holding Universal jointly and severally liable with the members of the TYS scheme. View "Federal Trade Comm'r v. Universal Processing Services of Wisconsin, LLC" on Justia Law

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A voicemail can, and will, be considered a communication under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. 1692, if the voicemail reveals that the call was from a debt collection company and provides instructions and information to return the call. Meaningful disclosure is provided as long as the caller reveals the nature of the debt collection company's business, which can be satisfied by disclosing that the call is on behalf of a debt collection company, and the name of the debt collection company. In this case, the Eleventh Circuit reversed in part and affirmed in part the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claims against Credit Control, alleging that Credit Control violated the FDCPA not only by failing to provide the required disclosures for initial communications with consumers, but also by failing to provide meaningful disclosure. View "Hart v. Credit Control, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Consumer Law
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Plaintiff filed suit alleging that TransUnion willfully violated a provision of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. 1681e(b), 1681n, which requires that a consumer reporting agency "follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy of the information concerning the individual about whom the report relates." The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint for failure to allege a plausible claim for relief. The court held that it was was not objectively unreasonable for TransUnion to interpret section 1681e(b) to permit it to report an account for which a consumer, like plaintiff in this case, was an authorized user. View "Pedro v. Transunion LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Consumer Law
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Plaintiff filed suit against SPS for damages under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), 12 U.S.C. 2601 et seq. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to SPS, holding that SPS successfully invoked section 3500.21(e)(1) by directing borrowers to mail qualified written requests (QWRs) to a particular office, even though it used that office for other purposes as well. Because plaintiff failed to address his QWR to SPS's designated address for QWR receipt, SPS had no duty to respond to it. View "Bivens v. Select Portfolio Servicing, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Consumer Law
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The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), 47 U.S.C. 227 et seq., permits a consumer to partially revoke her consent to be called by means of an automatic telephone dialing system. The Eleventh Circuit thought it logical that a consumer's power under the TCPA to completely withdraw consent and thereby stop all future automated calls encompasses the power to partially withdraw consent and stop calls during certain times. In this case, the court held that summary judgment was inappropriate because a reasonable jury could find that plaintiff partially revoked her consent to be called in "the morning" and "during the workday" on the October 13 phone call with a Comenity employee. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Schweitzer v. Comenity Bank" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether an order form faxed to a doctor by a company that supplies a medical product purchased by that doctor's patient constitutes an "unsolicited advertisement" within the meaning of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. 227(a)(5). The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the complaint, agreeing with the district court that faxes were not "unsolicited advertisements." The court held that the faxes in this case did not promote the sale of Arriva products and thus they were not unsolicited advertisements. In this case, each fax related to a specific order already placed by a patient of the clinic and requested only that the doctor of the patient fill out an order form to facilitate a purchase made by the patient. View "The Florence Endocrine Clinic v. Arriva Medical" on Justia Law

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In 2014, plaintiff filed suit against NCO for violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) because NCO attempted to collect medical debts from her (Vanover I). Plaintiff then filed suit against NCO in Florida state court alleging violations of the TCPA, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FCPA), and the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA) (Vanover II). The Eleventh Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the permissive joinder of additional parties because plaintiff's failure to timely amend her complaint in Vanover I to include these parties did not justify subjecting NCO to duplicative litigation. Furthermore, NCO had no obligation to seek consolidation of Vanover I and Vanover II. Therefore, the district court properly acted within its discretion when it denied plaintiff's motion to permissively join additional parties. The Eleventh Circuit, as a matter of first impression, agreed with the test announced by the Tenth Circuit that claim-spitting is not whether there is finality of judgment, but whether the first suit, assuming it were final, would preclude the second suit. Consequently, the district court did not err by dismissing Vanover II for improper claim-splitting. The court affirmed the judgment. View "Vanover v. NCO Financial Services" on Justia Law

Posted in: Consumer Law