Articles Posted in U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals

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American Satellite, a third party retailer of Dish Network satellite television services, received a call from a potential customer. A woman, who identified herself as “Dickley,” provided what she claimed to be her social security number. In actuality, the number belonged to a man named Bickley. Dickley was an identity thief. The agent entered Dickley’s name and social security number into an interface that connects to credit reporting agencies. Unable to verify the information, American Satellite informed Dickley that her attempt to open an account was declined. Bickley later received a credit report indicating that Dish had made an inquiry on his name. Dish informed him that someone had attempted to open an account in his name, providing a recording of the conversation between the agent and the identity thief. A year later, despite knowing that the inquiry had prevented the theft of his identity, Bickley filed suit under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. 1681b, alleging request and use of his credit report without a “permissible purpose” and sought emotional distress damages. The district court entered summary judgment for Dish, including a counterclaim for abuse of process. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, referring to the conspicuous underdevelopment of key factual detail in Bickley’s complaint and in briefs as “bordering on deceitful” and to the adage that no good deed goes unpunished. View "Bickley v. Dish Network LLC" on Justia Law

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Patriot was authorized to issue title policies underwritten by First American in Michigan. In 2007, Patriot closed a transaction and provided title insurance and a closing protection letter (CPL) when which WaMu loaned $4,543,593.07 to Truong for the purchase of property in Grosse Ile. In the CPL, First American agreed to indemnify WaMu for actual losses arising from Patriot’s fraud or dishonesty in connection with the closing. In 2008, First American discovered that the Truong transaction was a sham, orchestrated by Patriot’s owner, and obtained title to the property. During negotiations concerning sale of the property, federal regulators closed WaMu. The FDIC became its receiver and sold most of WaMu’s assets to Chase, including the title insurance commitment issued in connection with the Truong transaction. Attempting to resolve the claim, First American tendered a quitclaim deed. Chase refused to accept that deed. First American sought a declaration that First American had fulfilled its obligations under the commitment by tendering a deed to the property. Chase sought a declaration that the deed was void and requested money damages. The FDIC intervened, alleging breach of contract against First American based on the CPL. After the property was sold, First American and Chase stipulated to dismissal of Chase’s claims against First American and First American’s claims against Chase. Chase and the FDIC entered into a stipulation that Chase did not acquire the CPL claim that the FDIC was pursuing. A jury awarded the FDIC $2,263,510.78. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. View "JP Morgan Chase Bank NA v. First Am. Title Ins. Corp." on Justia Law

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Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. 1692g(a)(3) a collector must notify the individual from whom it seeks payment that it will assume the validity of the debt unless he disputes it “within thirty days after receipt of the notice.” Diversified wrote to Wallace that it would assume the validity of a debt unless he disputed it “within 30 days of receiving this notice.” Based on the letter’s use of “of” rather than “after,” as in the Act, Wallace sued Diversified. The district court granted the debt collector judgment on the pleadings. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. A collector need not parrot the Act to comply with, but only must communicate with enough clarity to convey the required information to a reasonable but unsophisticated consumer. The Act and the letter mean the same thing. View "Wallace v. Diversified Consultants, Inc." on Justia Law

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A title services company may not pay a real estate agent a fee in exchange for a referral, Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, 12 U.S.C. 2607(a), with an exemption for “affiliated business arrangements.” The defendants are related title and real estate agency companies and met three prerequisites for the exemption. Home buyers claimed that the defendants fell outside the safe harbor’s coverage because they failed to satisfy a fourth condition announced in a Department of Housing and Urban Development policy statement. The district court held that the policy statement is not binding on the Department, is not otherwise entitled to deference, and does not supplement the Act’s existing safe-harbor conditions. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, holding that the defendants qualify under the exemption for affiliated businesses. View "Carter v. Welles-Bowen Realty, Inc." on Justia Law

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In 2006, Plaintiff financed a purchase of residential property. Residential Finance was the lender; Chase serviced the loan. In 2011 Plaintiff sent Chase a “Qualified Written Request” under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, 12 U.S.C. 2605(e), requesting information about the amount owed on the loan, the identity of the “current holder,” the date Chase began servicing the loan, and a breakdown of accrued charges. Plaintiff disputed late fees and other charges and stated that Chase had refused a loan modification for which she qualified and had failed to provide a copy of the Note as requested. Chase sent some material, but stated that any requested information not included was either unavailable or considered proprietary; the letter did not provide the identity of the loan’s owner or information on the correctness of Plaintiff’s account, and did not provide contact information for obtaining assistance. Plaintiff sued, alleging that she made excess payments that Chase failed to credit, violations of the Truth in Lending Act, 15 U.S.C. 1641(f)(2), RESPA, the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act, and conversion. Chase finally identified the owner of the loan: Fannie Mae. The district court dismissed. The Sixth Circuit affirmed with respect to TILA, but reversed dismissal of the RESPA claim, finding that Plaintiff adequately alleged causation of damages. View "Marais v. Chase Home Fin., LLC" on Justia Law

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Beginning in 2004, 1st Source Bank entered into secured transactions with the debtors for the sale or lease of tractors and trailers. The agreements granted 1st Source a security interest in the tractors and/or trailers, accounts, and in proceeds from that collateral. 1st Source filed financing statements that identified the collateral as including the specified tractors/and or trailers, and “all proceeds thereof, including rental and/or lease receipts.” The financing statements did not refer to “accounts,” “accounts receivable,” or any similar language. Later, defendant banks also entered into secured transactions with the debtors and filed financing statements that specifically referred to a security interest in “all accounts receivable now outstanding or hereafter arising.” In 2009, the debtors defaulted. 1st Source undertook repossession of the collateral securing the agreements and attempted to claim a perfected security interest and first priority in debtors’ accounts, arguing that the term “and all proceeds thereof” included accounts receivable. The district court granted defendants summary judgment, finding that 1st Source’s financing statements were not sufficient to put defendants on notice that 1st Source claimed a security interest in accounts receivable, and holding, as a matter of Tennessee law, that “proceeds,” as used in a company’s financing statement, does not include its accounts receivable. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. View "1st Source Bank v. Wilson Bank & Trust" on Justia Law

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Miller and his pastor Wellons wanted to buy investment land for $790,000. Miller formed Fellowship, with eight investment units valued at $112,500 each, to purchase the land and recruited investors. Miller and Wellons did not purchase units, but Miller obtained a 19.5% interest as Fellowship’s manager and Wellons obtained a 4.5% interest as secretary. Miller secured $675,000 in investments before closing and obtained a loan from First Bank, representing that DEMCO, one of Miller’s development companies, needed a $337,500 loan that would be paid within six months. Because DEMCO pledged Fellowship’s property, First Bank required a written resolution. The resolution contained false statements that all Fellowship members were present at a meeting, and that, at this nonexistent meeting, they unanimously voted to pledge the property as collateral. Fellowship’s members, other than Miller and Wellons, believed that the property was being purchased free of encumbrances. After the closing, $146,956.75 remained in Fellowship’s account. Miller then exchanged his ownership in Fellowship for satisfactions of debts. Despite having no ownership interest, Miller modified and renewed the loan. Later Miller told Fellowship members the truth. Miller was convicted of two counts of making false statements to a bank, 18 U.S.C. 1014, and two counts of aggravated identity theft, 18 U.S.C. 1028A. The Sixth Circuit affirmed conviction on one count of false statements, but vacated and remanded the other convictions. View "United States v. Miller" on Justia Law

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In 2009, Tyler had accumulated $1,041 of debt on his Chase credit card. DHC, assignee of the debt, filed suit in Kentucky, seeking collection of the debt, plus 21% interest, and attorney’s fees. The complaint had not been served when Tyler filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, three months after the suit was filed. Tyler did not list this suit as debt or his potential Fair Debt Collection Practices Act counterclaims as assets on the bankruptcy schedules. Tyler did list a debt owed on a Chase credit card, of “Unknown” amount. Chase did not participate and Tyler was granted a discharge. Eight days later, DHC served process on Tyler. DHC filed a voluntary Notice of Dismissal without prejudice after it learned of Tyler’s bankruptcy, but Tyler filed a purported federal class action, alleging violations of the FDCPA and Kentucky’s usury laws. The district court dismissed, finding that Tyler “elected to forego filing compulsory counterclaims” and that Tyler’s claims were “rooted in the allegations in DHC’s state court complaint” and thus part of the bankruptcy estate. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. While the claim was not barred under res judicata principles, the claim was based on a pre-petition violation and, thus, property of the bankruptcy estate. View "Tyler v. DH Capital Mgmt., Inc." on Justia Law

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AmEx is the world’s largest issuer of traveler’s checks, which never expire. AmEx and third-party vendors sell the checks at face value, and AmEx profits by investing the funds until the TC is redeemed. Although most are cashed within a year, AmEx uses the remaining uncashed checks for long-term, high-yield investments. Until recently, every state’s abandoned property laws presumed abandonment of uncashed traveler’s checks 15 years after issuance. This presumption requires the issuer to transfer possession of the funds to the state. In 2008 Kentucky amended KRS 393.060(2) to change thes abandonment period from to seven years. AmEx claims violation of the Due Process Clause, the Contract Clause, and the Takings Clause. Following a remand and amendment of the complaint to add a dormant Commerce Clause argument and a claim that the legislation did not apply retroactively to checks that were issued and outstanding prior to the effective date, the district court granted the state summary judgment. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, holding that the amendment applies only prospectively and does not violate the Commerce Clause. View "Am. Express Travel Related Servs. Co., Inc. v. Hollenbach" on Justia Law

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Watson’s companies, Cyberco and Teleservices, defrauded lending institutions and other businesses that provided funding for Cyberco to purchase computer equipment from Teleservices. Cyberco never actually received any equipment, but the lending institutions forwarded funds to Teleservices based on phony invoices Watson arranged. Watson packed Cyberco’s computer room with fake servers and swapped serial numbers among those servers to deceive the victims when they attempted to audit their collateral. Teleservices “funneled” the funds back to Cyberco, which used them to make payments to allow the fraud to continue and to pay Watson and others substantial salaries. The payments were made through Huntington Bank, which also facilitated payments through its cash management services, but Cyberco owed Huntington more than $16 million. Teleservices, which had no banking relationship with Huntington, made payments so that Huntington could reduce its exposure to about $600,000 in a few months, just weeks before the FBI raided Cyberco. After that raid, creditors commenced an involuntary Chapter 7 proceeding against Cyberco. A state-appointed receiver filed a voluntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition for Teleservices. The bankruptcy court dismissed Huntington’s motions for substantive consolidation of the Chapter 7 petitions. The Bankruptcy Appellate Panel determined that the denials were not final appealable orders. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. View "In re: Cyberco Holdings, Inc." on Justia Law