Articles Posted in Consumer Law

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On remand from the Supreme Court, the Second Circuit certified the following question to the New York Court of Appeals: Does a merchant comply with New York's General Business Law 518 so long as the merchant posts the total‐dollars‐and‐cents price charged to credit card users? View "Expressions Hair Design v. Schneiderman" on Justia Law

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A debt collector engages in unfair or unconscionable litigation conduct in violation of section 1692f when, as alleged here, it in bad faith unduly prolongs legal proceedings or requires a consumer to appear at an unnecessary hearing. The Second Circuit vacated the district court's dismissal of an action alleging that GMBS violated sections 1692e and 1692f of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. 1692e and 1692f, when it garnished plaintiff's bank account and then tried to block him from showing that all of the funds in his account were exempt from garnishment. In this case, GMBS was alleged to have violated each section based on different conduct: section 1692e based on the false statements made in GMBS's affirmation, and section 1692f based on GMBS's objection to plaintiff's exemption claim when it allegedly knew there was no legally sufficient basis to do so. The court held that the complaint stated a claim under sections 1692e and 1692f. View "Arias v. Gutman, Mintz, Baker & Sonnenfeldt LLP" on Justia Law

Posted in: Consumer Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against defendants, alleging willful violations of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (FACTA), 15 U.S.C. 1681c(g). Section 1681c(g) seeks to reduce the risk of identity theft by, among other things, prohibiting merchants from including more than the final five digits of a customer’s credit card number on a printed receipt. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's second amended complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The court held that the parties' factual disagreement as to whether printing the first six digits constituted a material risk of harm was a question of fact even at the Rule 12(b)(1) motion‐to‐dismiss stage, and so the court reviewed the district court's finding for clear error. On the basis of the record and plaintiffs' affirmative burden to establish subject matter jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence, and informed by the findings of other district courts as to this specific issue, the court concluded that the district court's findings were not clearly erroneous. The court held, however, that a complaint must be dismissed without prejudice where the dismissal was due to the court's lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Therefore, the court remanded so that the district court may amend the judgment and enter the dismissal without prejudice. View "Katz v. The Donna Karan Company, LLC" on Justia Law

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Guided by unambiguous statutory language in the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (FACTA), 15 U.S.C. 1681c(g), that a receipt with a credit card expiration date does not raise a material risk of identity theft, and finding that the bare procedural violation alleged by plaintiff does not present a material risk of harm, the Second Circuit held that allegations in her amended complaint did not satisfy the injury‐in‐fact requirement necessary to establish Article III standing to bring suit. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint based on lack of standing. View "Crupar-Weinmann v. Paris Baguette America, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Consumer Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Lincoln, alleging violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), 47 U.S.C. 227. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Lincoln, holding that plaintiff did introduce sufficient evidence from which a jury could conclude that he revoked his consent, but that the TCPA does not permit a consumer to revoke its consent to be called when that consent forms part of a bargained‐for exchange. In this case, plaintiff's consent was not provided gratuitously, it was included as an express provision of a contract to lease an automobile from Lincoln. View "Reyes v. Lincoln Automotive Financial Services" on Justia Law

Posted in: Consumer Law, Contracts

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Plaintiff filed a putative class action alleging that grocery stores in New York operated by Whole Foods systematically overstated the weights of pre‐packaged food products and overcharged customers as a result.  The district court dismissed the complaint based on plaintiff's lack of Article III standing. The Second Circuit vacated and remanded, holding that the district court did not draw all reasonable inferences in plaintiff's favor. In this case, plaintiff plausibly alleged a nontrivial economic injury sufficient to support standing. According to the DCA's investigation, Whole Foods packages of cheese and cupcakes were systematically and routinely mislabeled and overpriced, and plaintiff regularly purchased Whole Foods packages of cheese and cupcakes throughout the relevant period. Therefore, the complaint satisfied the low threshold required to plead injury in fact. View "John v. Whole Foods Market Group" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit reversed and remanded the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's lemon law suit based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Plaintiff filed suit under the Magnuson‐Moss Warranty—Federal Trade Commission Act (MMWA), 15 U.S.C. 2301 et seq., and New York State law, contending that the "certified pre-owned" BMW she purchased from defendant was incurably defective. The Second Circuit held that the value of plaintiff's MMWA claims, as pled, exceeded the $50,000 minimum amount in controversy requirement. In this case, although plaintiff could neither add punitive damages under the MMWA nor rely on the value of her state law claims to meet the jurisdictional threshold, plaintiff's rescission claim supplied a sufficient basis for subject matter jurisdiction. View "Pyskaty v. Wide World of Cars, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, individually and on behalf of others similarly situated, filed suit against defendant, alleging violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. 1692 et seq. Plaintiff alleged that defendant failed to provide the "amount of the debt" within five days after an initial communication with a consumer in connection with the collection of a debt, as required by section 1692g. The court declined to hold that a mortgage foreclosure complaint was an initial communication with a consumer in connection with the collection debt. In this case, the court concluded that neither the Foreclosure Complaint nor the July Letter were initial communications giving rise to the requirements of section 1692g(a). The court held, however, that the August Letter was an initial communication in connection with the collection of a debt, and that the Payoff Statement attached to the August Letter did not adequately state the amount of the debt. The Payoff Statement included a "Total Amount Due," but that amount may have included unspecified "fees, costs, additional payments, and/or escrow disbursements" that were not yet due at the time the statement was issued. The court explained that a statement was incomplete where, as here, it omits information allowing the least sophisticated consumer to determine the minimum amount she owes at the time of the notice, what she will need to pay to resolve the debt at any given moment in the future, and an explanation of any fees and interest that will cause the balance to increase. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded for further proceedings. View "Carlin v. Davidson Fink LLP" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against ZocDoc, alleging violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), 47 U.S.C. 227. Plaintiff's suit stemmed from two unsolicited telecopies (faxes), it allegedly received from ZocDoc. ZocDoc made a settlement offer to plaintiff as to its individual claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68, but plaintiff rejected the offer. The district court subsequently granted ZocDoc's motion to dismiss the action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction based on the ground that its offer afforded plaintiff complete relief, thus mooting the action. The court concluded, however, that the action was not and is not moot. The court held that an unaccepted Rule 68 offer of judgment was, regardless of its terms, a legal nullity. In this case, the district court entered a judgment that should not have been entered in the first place, and ZocDoc then more than one year later deposited an amount in satisfaction of that errant judgment in an account payable to plaintiff. Therefore, the court vacated and remanded. View "Radha Geismann, M.D., P.C. v. ZocDoc" on Justia Law

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Physicians filed suit against Boehringer, a pharmaceutical company, alleging violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, as amended by the Junk Fax Protection Act of 2005 (TCPA), 47 U.S.C. 227. Specifically, Physicians alleged that Boehringer sent an unsolicited advertisement in violation of the TCPA - a fax invitation for a free dinner meeting to discuss ailments relating to Physicians' business. The district court dismissed for failure to state a claim, holding that no facts were pled that plausibly showed that the fax had a commercial purpose. The court held that, while a fax must have a commercial purpose to be an "unsolicited advertisement," the district court improperly dismissed Physicians' complaint where Physicians' allegation is sufficient to state a claim. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded. View "Physicians Healthsource v. Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals" on Justia Law

Posted in: Consumer Law