by
Bernal bought a monthly pass to Six Flags amusement parks. The contract said that if he fell behind on his payments, he would “be billed for any amounts that are due and owing plus any costs (including reasonable attorney’s fees) incurred by [Six Flags] in attempting to collect amounts due.” After Bernal missed several monthly payments, Six Flags hired AR, a debt collector. Under their contract, AR could charge Six Flags a 5% management fee plus an additional amount based on the number of days the debt was delinquent (in this case, an additional 20%), as is common in the market. AR hired NRA, a subcontractor, which sent Bernal a collection letter asking for the $267.31 he owed, plus $43.28 in costs. Reasoning that it could not have cost $43.28 to mail a single collection letter, Bernal filed a class-action lawsuit under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, alleging that NRA charged a fee not “expressly authorized by the agreement creating the debt,” 15 U.S.C. 1692f(1). The Seventh Circuit affirmed a judgment for NRA. A debt collector’s fee counts as a collection cost under that language. The contract unambiguously permits Six Flags to recover any cost it incurs in collecting past-due payments, and that includes a standard collection fee. View "Bernal v. NRA Group, LLC" on Justia Law

by
The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) creates a cause of action for “borrower[s],” 12 U.S.C. 2605(f). Tara and Nathan Keen got a loan and took out a mortgage when they bought their house. Both of them signed the mortgage; only Nathan signed the loan. The pair later divorced. Nathan gave Keen full title to the house. He died shortly afterward. Although Tara was not legally obligated to make payments on the loan after Nathan died, she made payments anyway so she could keep the house. She later ran into financial trouble, fell behind on those payments, and contacted the loan servicer, Ocwen. After unsuccessful negotiations, Ocwen proceeded with foreclosure. The house was sold to a third-party buyer, Helson. Soon after foreclosure, Tara sued both Ocwen and Helson, alleging that Ocwen violated the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), 12 U.S.C. 2601, which requires that loan servicers take certain steps when a borrower asks for options to avoid foreclosure. Tara alleged that Ocwen failed to properly review her requests before it foreclosed on her house. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of Keen’s RESPA claims. RESPA’s cause of action extends only to “borrower[s].” Keen was not a “borrower” because she was never personally obligated under the loan agreement. View "Keen v. Helson" on Justia Law

by
Carello is blind. To access online visual content, he uses a “screen reader,” which reads text aloud to him from websites that are designed to support its software. Carello claims that the Credit Union website fails to offer such support. The Illinois Credit Union Act requires that credit union membership be open only to groups of people who share a “common bond,” including “[p]ersons belonging to a specific association, group or organization,” “[p]ersons who reside in a reasonably compact and well-defined neighborhood or community,” and “[p]ersons who have a common employer.” The Credit Union limits its membership to specified local government employees. Membership is required before an individual may use any Credit Union services. Carello is not eligible for, nor has he expressed any interest in, Credit Union membership. He is a tester: he visits websites solely to test Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance, which prohibits places of public accommodation from discriminating “on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of [their] goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations,” and requires them to make “reasonable modifications” to achieve that standard, 42 U.S.C. 12812(a), (b). The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of Carello’s claim. Carello lacked standing to sue because he failed to allege an injury in fact. View "Carello v. Aurora Policeman Credit Union" on Justia Law

by
In this foreclosure action, the Supreme Court held that Defendants John Sanzo and Maria Sanzo were not entitled to the homestead exemption, which is available when a creditor forecloses on a judgment lien but not on a consensual lien. See Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-352(b). Plaintiff, Rockstone Capital, LLC held judgment liens against Defendants. The parties agreed to a consensual lien in the form of a mortgage to secure the debt. Defendants defaulted on the mortgage payments, and Plaintiff sought to foreclose on the mortgage. Defendants invoked the homestead exemption. The trial court decided that the exemption should apply and rendered judgment for Plaintiff on the judgment liens, subject to the homestead exemption. The Appellate Court reversed, holding that the homestead exemption did not apply to a consensual lien such as a mortgage. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Appellate Court properly found that the appeal was taken from a final judgment and the mortgage was a consensual lien. View "Rockstone Capital, LLC v. Sanzo" on Justia Law

by
Deutsche Bank National Trust Company ("Deutsche Bank"); MERSCORP, Inc., and Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (collectively, "MERS"); and CIS Financial Services, Inc. ("CIS"), petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court for permission, pursuant to Rule 5, Ala. R. App. P., to appeal the trial court's denial of their motions seeking to dismiss the claims of the plaintiffs-- Walker County and Rick Allison, in his official capacity as judge of probate of Walker County (collectively, "plaintiffs")--seeking class-based relief on behalf of themselves and all other similarly situated Alabama counties and judges of probate. At issue was a particular aspect of the mortgage-securitization process. Deutsche Bank served as trustee for numerous residential mortgage-backed security ("RMBS") trusts containing mortgages for properties located in Walker County and other Alabama counties. In this case, plaintiffs initiated the underlying litigation against Deutsche Bank "seeking to recover the benefit [Deutsche Bank allegedly] received by relying on the real property recording systems of the Counties without compensating the Counties for that benefit." Plaintiffs alleged that Alabama law requires mortgage assignments to be recorded; therefore, they maintained, the MERS system used by Deutsche Bank avoided the proper recording of mortgage assignments, along with the payment of the requisite filing fees, and has resulted in lost income to county governments. The Alabama Supreme Court reversed the trial court and remanded: “We see no intent in the Code section to embrace a mandatory rule that all conveyances, which would include not only real-property conveyances but also apparently all conveyances of personal property, are required to be recorded in the probate court. Instead, 35-4-50 simply states that the probate court is where conveyances that are required by law to be filed must be filed. Section 35-4-51, in turn, is the Code section that provides for the recording of conveyances generally, and it places a duty on only the probate court to accept those filings. The arguments before us demonstrate no legal duty to record mortgage assignments.” View "Deutsche Bank National Trust Company, as trustee of any specific residential mortgage-backed security" on Justia Law

by
Jared Larson appealed a district court judgment foreclosing a mortgage in favor of Heartland State Bank. Larson argued the judgment should have been reversed because Heartland’s notice before foreclosure was legally insufficient. The North Dakota Supreme Court found Larson raised an issue of defective notice during the pendency of the action after Heartland moved to amend its complaint. After reviewing the record, the Supreme Court concluded the defect did not impair Larson’s rights and was not fatal to Heartland’s foreclosure action. Rather than impair Larson’s rights, the Court found the defect benefited him: had he paid the amount due under the notice, the mortgage would have been reinstated under N.D.C.C. 32-19-28 and Heartland would have been required to start the process over to foreclose the mortgage. Because the defect did not impair Larson’s right to reinstate the mortgage, the Supreme Court concluded the district court did not err in granting Heartland’s motion to amend the complaint and motion for summary judgment. Judgment was affirmed. View "Heartland State Bank v. Larson, et al." on Justia Law

by
JPF Enterprises, LLC, appealed the grant of summary judgment awarding Baker Boyer National Bank $858,135.47 on its breach of contract claim and dismissing JPF’s counterclaim for fraud in the inducement. Baker Boyer loaned money to JPF for the purchase of thirty mobile homes from Jason Sundseth and his company, Vindans LLC, for use as rental housing in western North Dakota. In 2013, Vindans owned the homes and rented them to oil field workers through Greenflex Housing, LLC, and Greenflex’s rental manager, Badlands, LLC. Vindans purchased the homes with financing from Baker Boyer. In the summer of 2013, James Foust, managing owner of JPF, and Sundseth began negotiations for JPF to purchase the homes from Vindans, and JPF sought financing for the purchase from Baker Boyer. According to Foust, Baker Boyer’s loan officer obtained rental information from Greenflex Housing indicating the monthly rental proceeds from the thirty homes was $9,600 and would not service JPF’s anticipated monthly payments of about $15,000 for the loan. Foust also claimed Baker Boyer required JPF to contract with Greenflex Housing to rent the homes to oil field workers and informed him the arrangement would result in a return of $45,000 per month for the thirty homes. According to Foust, Vindans’ loan with Baker Boyer was near foreclosure and Baker Boyer failed to inform him that his purchase of the homes would not be profitable. In November 2015, JPF defaulted on its loan from Baker Boyer, and Baker Boyer sued JPF in North Dakota to enjoin JPF from transferring or disposing of the loan collateral, to take possession of the collateral, for appointment of a receiver, for sale of the collateral and for a money judgment. JPF answered and counterclaimed, admitting payments were not made as agreed and alleging fraud in the inducement. JPF claimed Baker Boyer acted as an intermediary for JPF’s purchase of the homes from Vindans and failed to disclose information to JPF about the physical condition of the homes, the financial condition of Vindans, and the uncertain financial viability of the home rentals. JPF sought an order requiring Baker Boyer to refund more than $600,000 that JPF paid to Baker Boyer in exchange for JPF transferring all right, title and interest in the homes to Baker Boyer. Finding no reversible error in the grant of summary judgment in favor of Baker Boyer, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. View "Baker Boyer National Bank v. JPF Enterprises, LLC" on Justia Law

by
Appellants challenged the approval of a global settlement between the receiver for Stanford International Bank and related entities, and various insurance company underwriters, who issued policies providing coverage for fidelity breaches, professional indemnity, directors and officers protection, and excess losses. The Fifth Circuit vacated the district court's order approving the settlement and bar orders, holding that the district court lacked authority to approve the receiver's settlement to the extent it nullified the coinsureds' claims to the policy proceeds without an alternative compensation scheme; released claims the estate did not possess; and barred suits that could not result in judgments against proceeds of the underwriters' policies or other receivership assets. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "SEC v. Stanford International Bank, Ltd." on Justia Law

by
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of Linn Lender's post-petition default interest and held that a reasonable person would not understand the reference to Linn Lender Claims in Article III.B.3 of the bankruptcy plan and the definition of the term "Linn Lender Claims" in Article I.A.114 to incorporate by reference the post-default interest rates set forth in the proofs of claim and credit agreement. The court held that, given the availability of post-petition default interest was specifically reserved when the Final Cash Collateral Order was entered, and that the bankruptcy plan itself contained an Article entitled "No Postpetition or Default Interest on Claims," failure to make specific mention of "default interest" in Article III.B.3 indicated that the parties intended the omission. View "UMB Bank, NA v. Linn Energy, LLC" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the trial court insofar as it rendered judgment in Defendant's favor on counts alleging fraudulent transfer under the Connecticut Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act (CUFTA), Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-552a through 52-552l, and unjust enrichment, holding that the trial court erred in rejecting Plaintiff's CUFTA claim but did not err in rejecting Plaintiff's unjust enrichment claim. Defendant Stephen McGee used a power of attorney granted to him by his elderly mother, Helen McGee, to transfer to himself funds from Helen's checking account. As a consequence of the transfers, Helen had insufficient assets to pay her debt to Plaintiff Geriatrics, Inc. Plaintiff brought this action, and the trial court rendered judgment in Defendant's favor on Plaintiff's CUFTA and unjust enrichment claims. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) in rejecting the CUFTA claim the trial court improperly failed to consider and apply agency principles; and (2) in light of the unrequited evidence, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in rejecting Plaintiff's unjust enrichment claim. View "Geriatrics, Inc. v. McGee" on Justia Law