David Dayen: Gorsuch’s First Opinion: Let Debt Collectors Run Amok

Editor’s Note: Thanks to poster C. Anderson who says,
“This is a technically correct but bad decision, as Dayen shows. The statutory language desperately needs to be updated. Until then, consumers should be taught how to exercise proof of claim demands. A consumer has no contract with a debt buyer; an assigned debt for consideration is not a negotiable instrument (like a promissory note) for which a consumer is liable and on which a debt buyer can make a UCC claim (it’s just a piece of paper); the debt buyer should be made to prove injury through the consideration for any assignment (pennies on the dollar); and if the debt has been charged off by the original creditor who has received a tax benefit and insurance payoff, the debt is dead. Debt buyers should be threatened with fraud suit for attempted unjust enrichment and theft by deception.”

And poster Anonymous who reminds readers that, ”

Selling of a debt is an actionable claim. It is a settled position in law that buyer of an actionable claim cannot recover from the debtor more than what the buyer has paid, for acquisition of the debt as it otherwise lead to unjust enrichment.

Debt buyers are not entitled to recover anything more than what the debt buyer had paid to the original creditor. This is logic and meet to commonsense which is basis of law.”

Olivier Douliery/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch

Justice Neil Gorsuch’s first Supreme Court opinion won’t earn much notice in his biographies. The unanimous decision reads more like a grammatical lesson, scrutinizing one line of text in a decades-old statute. But if you have ever been harassed in the middle of the night by a debt collector, or been threatened with tax liens or court summonses or even bodily harm, you should understand what Gorsuch and his fellow justices did on Monday: They gave some of the worst bottom-feeders in the economy a free pass to break the law.

The case, Henson v. Santander, looks pretty innocuous at first reading. But the Roberts Court’s deference to big business, and lack of experience about the real-world legislative implications of their legal debating club, turned this decision into a huge win for financial predators. It’s now up to Congress to fix what Gorsuch and friends broke. But with the current group in charge, don’t hold your breath.

Here’s what the case is about. Citi Financial Auto made a series of car loans, and then sold the defaulted debts to the Spanish bank Santander, which subsequently tried to collect. The plaintiffs allege that Santander violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) of 1977 by harassing and intimidating the debtors. The FDCPA protects debtors from such practices, enabling them to file suit against the debt collector, with hefty fines for misconduct.

Santander argued that it bought the debts outright and wasn’t attempting to collect them on someone else’s behalf, as debt collectors regularly do. Therefore, it was exempt from the FDCPA. Two courts agreed with Santander, but the appeal went to the Supreme Court.

At this point we have to perform the drudgery of examining the FDCPA statutory text for how it defines “debt collector.” It’s a fairly targeted definition, with exemptions for government officials, process servers, nonprofit credit counselors, and originators of the debt. A “debt collector,” under the statute, means any business whose principal purpose is collecting debts, or a business that regularly collects “debts owed … another.”

This definition, written in 1977, predates the rise of the debt buyer. Since then, however, debt buying has become a multibillion-dollar industry whose participants purchase defaulted debt for pennies and harangue the debtors for the money.

The question raised by Gorsuch’s opinion is whether a debt buyer should be exempt from the main rule preventing abhorrent misconduct in this industry, just because it bought the debt outright instead of trying to collect as a third party.

According to the Supreme Court, yes. Gorsuch weirdly throws out the first part of the definition—about a business with the principal purpose of collecting debts—writing that “the parties haven’t much litigated that alternative definition” and the Court didn’t agree to address it. So the only dispute here is over the “debts owed … another” clause.

There then follows a long passage about the meaning of those three words—if you are interested in questions of past participles, give it a read—concluding that “a debt purchaser like Santander may indeed collect debts for its own account without triggering the statutory definition in dispute.”

Maybe that’s a reasonable position. But you should understand the consequences. Debt buyers, who to this point had at least some legal exposure to the FDCPA, are now exempt from it, under one definition of “debt collector.” That makes potential litigants reliant on the other definition—a business whose principal purpose is collecting debts. And some experts in this field believe this presents an opportunity for the buyer industry.

“It’s almost a road map to me on how you can avoid the FDCPA,” says noted consumer bankruptcy attorney Max Gardner, who runs a boot camp for lawyers fighting predatory lenders. As an international bank, for example, Santander could easily argue that its principal purpose is not debt collection, but originating loans. Other debt buyers could follow the “Santander defense.”

“The biggest debt buyer in the country is called Sherman Acquisitions,” Gardner says. “They own all sorts of subsidiaries. They also own two national banks. You can put two and two together.” Sherman could merely claim that the national banks it owns are the debt collectors, and that’s not their primary purpose. And if the courts agree, the nation’s largest debt buyer would be freed from following the FDCPA, and allowed to call and yell at you at three in the morning.

Sherman could have done that switcheroo before, but they still had to fear running afoul of the “debts owed … another” clause, which other courts had ruled as applicable to debt buyers. With Gorsuch and the Supremes waving that away, debt buyers are free to play all kinds of games to evade regulation. Debt buyers could acquire a community lender and assign it the task of debt collection. Or larger banks could bring a debt buying operation under their roof, as Santander has.

Bankruptcy attorneys seem more exercised by this decision than consumer attorneys, but everyone sees the potential for mischief. “Certain debt buyers by their corporate structure are going to be able to avoid this law,” says April Kuehnhoff, an attorney with the National Consumer Law Center. “Now consumers are not going to know whether this person calling them is covered or isn’t covered [by the act]. I think it raises a lot of difficulty in private enforcement.”

Kuehnhoff adds that Congress needs to get involved right away to fix this newly created hole, rather than wait and see how the industry adapts. Indeed, that was Justice Gorsuch’s conclusion as well, that Congress could merely update the statute by applying it to debt buyers to reflect the changing times. Max Gardner believes that’s a pipe dream with the current Congress. “That’s going to happen as soon as Trump reveals his tax returns,” he says.

Gorsuch’s was the second Supreme Court ruling benefiting debt buyers handed down in the last two weeks.

Gorsuch’s was the second Supreme Court ruling benefiting debt buyers handed down in the last two weeks. The other, Midland v. Johnson, allows a debt buyer to file a proof of claim in a bankruptcy case beyond the statute of limitations without violating the FDCPA. This creates an incentive for debt buyers to toss expired claims into any bankruptcy case without sanction. “You’re buying debt for five (hundredths of one percent), you don’t have to hit too many doubles to come up with a pretty good batting average,” says Gardner.

Decisions like those in these two cases happen when you have nine cloistered, Ivy League-educated career jurists on the Court, instead of someone with actual experience in the legislative arena or defending vulnerable people. A 2014 report found that 77 million Americans—more than one in three—have an outstanding debt in collections. Enormous numbers of people are going to have their lives worsened because of this unanimous ruling based on a narrow word construction.

The justices certainly could have clarified the status of debt buyers under the FDCPA using the statute’s entire definition. The Court has no problem expanding rulings when it comes to letting states opt out of expanded Medicaid or enabling unrestricted money in our elections. Only when it comes to people hounded by debts do they adhere so narrowly to the question before them. But businesses almost always get the benefit of the doubt at the Supreme Court in ways that ordinary Americans don’t.

Millions of people will be awakened in the night by an angry telemarketer screaming at them to pay up. I wish the first person to get such a call would be Neil Gorsuch.

DS News: Inconsistency in the Courts concerning RESPA & FDCPA

Inconsistency in the Courts

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Equal justice under the law. Carved across the front of the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., these words succinctly yet completely convey the duty of the U.S. Supreme Court. Its decisions, however, are then interpreted and applied by the lower federal courts. What happens when those federal courts apply a Supreme Court ruling quite differently depending on the claim? Inconsistency in the courts can certainly leave questions in its wake.

Defining Concrete

In Spokeo v. Robins, 136 S. Ct. 1540 (2016), the U.S. Supreme Court held that alleging a bare violation of a statute will no longer suffice to establish Article III standing. Even if the defendant violated a statute that provides a statutory penalty, a plaintiff will still need to show particularized and concrete harm in order to bring an action in federal court. 

But the Supreme Court left the task of figuring out what “concrete” harm may be entirely to lower federal courts. The court suggested that concrete harm does not necessarily mean tangible harm and that even the risk of harm may suffice in certain circumstances. The court further suggested that a plaintiff could be able to show a risk of harm sufficiently concrete to support standing based on a statutory violation alone where the harm alleged was based on a long-recognized common-law right (i.e., slander, libel, or the right to obtain publicly available information). 

That, however, is about where the Supreme Court stopped. With respect to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the statute at issue in the suit, the only specific example the court provided of a published inaccuracy that would not suffice to show a risk of harm concrete enough to support standing would be an incorrect ZIP code. And even that sentence was qualified with a footnote stating the example does not apply to “other types of false information.”

RESPA vs. FDCPA

For loan servicers, the ruling, while somewhat helpful, left most questions unanswered, including what type of harm to borrowers the courts would consider concrete. The lack of guidance has led to some rather disparate results. 

One such example can be found in how the federal courts have applied Spokeo differently to two statutes very familiar to mortgage loan servicers: the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Both of these statutes provide a statutory right to certain information. 

RESPA requires loan servicers to, among other things, inform borrowers if their loans transfer to new servicers and also respond to borrowers’ written requests for information about their loans. The FDCPA requires debt collectors to, among other things, inform debtors if a communication is coming from a debt collector and if it is being sent in connection with the collection of a debt.

Since both statutes confer on consumers a right to receive certain information and both permit consumers to sue if they do not receive that information, one would think the courts would apply Spokeo similarly when analyzing both statutes to either find standing or no standing to sue. But that simply hasn’t been the case. 

Proving Harm

In Dolan v. Select Portfolio Servicing, No. 03-CV-3285, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101201 (E.D.N.Y. Aug. 2, 2016), the court held that the plaintiff lacked Article III standing to pursue claims against his loan servicer for the servicer’s alleged failure to notify him when the loan service transferred—a violation of RESPA’s sections 2605(b) and (c). The plaintiff argued, among other things, that he had standing because under his interpretation of Spokeo, “the mere violation of a statute that requires disclosure of any type of public or consumer information is sufficient to confer standing on a plaintiff who was denied access to that information.” Id. at *21 fn 7. 

The court, however, disagreed, holding that the examples of intangible, lack-of-information-type harm the Supreme Court identified in Spokeo as sufficient to confer standing “involved interests of much greater and broader significance to the public than those . . . under Section 2605 of RESPA.” Id. at *22–23. In other words, the court seemingly ruled that the public interest advanced by RESPA was simply not important enough to confer standing absent a showing of actual harm.

Standing to Sue

Most courts have come to the opposite conclusion, however, with respect to FDCPA claims. In an unpublished opinion, Church v. Accretive Health, Inc., 654 Fed. Appx. 990 (11th Cir. 2016), the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held that the plaintiff’s “statutorily created right to information pursuant to the FDCPA” gave her standing to sue simply because she did not receive the required information. 

“Through the FDCPA,” the court explained, “Congress has created a new right—the right to receive the required disclosures in communications governed by the FDCPA—and a new injury—not receiving such disclosures.” Id. at *994. Simply not receiving the required FDCPA disclosures, according to the court, is therefore sufficiently concrete intangible harm to confer standing. 

Numerous other courts have agreed. See, e.g., Daubert v. Nra Grp., LLC, No. 3:15-CV-00718, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 105909 (M.D. Pa. Aug. 11, 2016), which found standing when the defendant mailed a collection letter displaying the barcode and account number associated with plaintiff’s debt in violation of the FDCPA. In Lane v. Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC, No. 15-C-10446, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 89258, at *3–5, 10–14 (N.D. Ill. July 11, 2016), the plaintiff established a concrete injury resulting from the defendant’s delivery of an allegedly misleading debt collection notice in violation of the FDCPA. Also see Quinn v. Specialized Loan Servicing, LLC, No. 16-C-2021, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 107299, at *8–13 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 11, 2016), which found the plaintiff’s 1692e claim alleged a sufficiently concrete injury for Article III standing. 

In Blaha v. First Nat’l Collections Bureau, Inc., No. 16-cv-2791, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 157575 (D.N.J. Nov. 10, 2016), the court agreed and then added, apparently by way of explanation, “Congress enacted the FDCPA as a result of ‘abundant evidence of the use of abusive, deceptive, and unfair debt collection practices’ and the inadequacy of existing laws and procedures designed to protect consumers . . .” and that “[t]he stated purpose of the law was to eliminate abusive debt collection practices and to promote further action to protect consumers against debt collection abuses . . .” and “[t]he right Congress sought to protect in enacting this legislation was therefore not merely procedural but substantive and of great importance.” Id. at *22–23 (Emphasis added).

Public vs. Private

So what’s the difference between RESPA and the FDCPA such that a violation of one statute confers standing with no further showing of harm while a violation of the other does not? Is it that the FDCPA is simply more important than RESPA? More useful? Do borrowers’ interactions with debt collectors require more protection than their interactions with their loan servicers? Perhaps more important, how can courts possibly decide objectively which statute is really important and which is not? 

Although absolute certainty in the law may not be attainable, surely we can do better than to base our standing jurisprudence on some amorphous scale of the statute’s relative social importance. Moreover, there is no language in Spokeo suggesting the Supreme Court ever intended for the question of standing to be analyzed in this way. Instead, the Supreme Court’s opinion suggests a completely different—and more bright-line—test that would eliminate entirely the need to weigh a statute’s relative importance when a plaintiff claims injury based on not receiving required disclosures. 

As numerous courts have correctly noted, Spokeo holds that some types of intangible harm, including not receiving information that an individual is entitled to receive, suffices to maintain an action in federal court. But the two cases the Supreme Court cited for this point—Federal Election Comm’n v. Akins, 524 U. S. 11 (1998) and Public Citizen v. Department of Justice, 491 U. S. 440 (1989)—involved a public right to information, not a private one. 

That seems a much simpler test but one that is still consistent with Spokeo: If the statute concerns public information, then it may fall within Spokeo’s definition of intangible harm sufficient to confer standing. But if the information is required to be privately disclosed, then a plaintiff should have to show some harm beyond just not having received it. 

Of course, the Supreme Court in Spokeo did not explicitly offer any such bright-line test—or any bright lines, for that matter—leaving loan servicers and litigants largely guessing what the federal courts may do next and eagerly awaiting the next time the issue finds its way to the Supreme Court. For now, referencing the existing RESPA and FDCPA cases is the best guidance until there is consistency in the courts.

About Author: Lukas Sosnicki

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Lukas Sosnicki is a litigator in the Financial Services Group in Dykema’s Los Angeles, California, office. He has extensive experience defending banks and mortgage servicers in individual and class action lawsuits across the country. He is also an appellate lawyer, having successfully represented numerous bank and servicer clients on appeal.

About Author: Madeleine Lee

Lee.Madeleine.003.headshot
Madeleine Lee is a litigator in the Financial Services Group in Dykema’s Los Angeles, California, office. Her practice focuses on the representation of financial institutions, servicers, and trustees in lender liability, loan servicing, lienholder, and title litigation. Her consumer finance practice includes advising clients on navigating the ever-evolving landscape of complex federal and state consumer lending laws.

TILA RESCISSION: Who Pays the Money?

The menu of items that are due to the borrower as a condition precedent to making a claim for repayment is expansive and frankly in many cases is equivalent or nearly equivalent to the total amount of the principal claimed as loan repayment. 

Get a consult! 202-838-6345

https://www.vcita.com/v/lendinglies to schedule CONSULT, leave message or make payments.
 
THIS ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.
—————-

While everyone is resisting the idea of enforcing rescission, some are asking the right questions. Here is the answer.

*

The rescission is effective on the date of mailing. The lender must comply within 20 days from date of notification. Compliance means (1) return of cancelled note (2) release of the encumbrance on record in tech county records and (3) return of all money paid by the borrower, directly or indirectly with certain minor exceptions.

*

The answer to the question of how much is due is that there needs to be an accounting because the statute 15 USC §1635 requires the return of all money paid by the “borrower”, directly or indirectly.

*

The fact that the fee or compensation or “profit” was not disclosed to the borrower does not remove it from the list of the charges paid by or on behalf of the borrower nor the liability to pay it to the borrower once rescission is effective (i.e., upon notice — mailing).

*

This leads to some interesting issues that will need to be dragged out of the “lender”, including all the other “lenders” going back to the original transaction. Most of the money received as compensation by third parties was not disclosed to the borrower, hence the need for an accounting. Many of the charges were slipped in to the loan without the borrower’s knowledge or consent. This brings in possible violations of the FDCPA, the FTCA and the “little FTC” acts passed by individual states.

*

The menu of items that are due to the borrower as a condition precedent to making a claim for repayment is expansive and frankly in many cases is equivalent or nearly equivalent to the total amount of the principal claimed as loan repayment. 

*

And that in turn brings up the most interesting question of all: who is liable to return those fees, compensation and finance charges? You can be sure that once the accounting is ordered by a court there will be scrambling amongst the players in the “Securitization” market. The whole point of masking their scheme was to avoid liability for this sort of thing. Hence the obfuscation of the actual creditor or lender. And this is one of many break points where the securitization players will start sniping at each other rather than the borrower.

*

Nobody wants to hand all that money that was “earned” through the hard work of chicanery. And nobody wants to assert that they are the actual creditor since that would be an admission against interest that they had been misrepresenting the true creditor all along. And it would be waiving the 5th Amendment right against self incrimination for criminal charges.

*

In any event, here are the REG Z rules on what constitutes a finance charge, which by the way, means that they should ALL have been been disclosed without exception.

§226.4   Finance charge.

(a) Definition. The finance charge is the cost of consumer credit as a dollar amount. It includes any charge payable directly or indirectly by the consumer and imposed directly or indirectly by the creditor as an incident to or a condition of the extension of credit. It does not include any charge of a type payable in a comparable cash transaction.

(1) Charges by third parties. The finance charge includes fees and amounts charged by someone other than the creditor, unless otherwise excluded under this section, if the creditor:

(i) Requires the use of a third party as a condition of or an incident to the extension of credit, even if the consumer can choose the third party; or

(ii) Retains a portion of the third-party charge, to the extent of the portion retained.

(2) Special rule; closing agent charges. Fees charged by a third party that conducts the loan closing (such as a settlement agent, attorney, or escrow or title company) are finance charges only if the creditor—

(i) Requires the particular services for which the consumer is charged;

(ii) Requires the imposition of the charge; or

(iii) Retains a portion of the third-party charge, to the extent of the portion retained.

(3) Special rule; mortgage broker fees. Fees charged by a mortgage broker (including fees paid by the consumer directly to the broker or to the creditor for delivery to the broker) are finance charges even if the creditor does not require the consumer to use a mortgage broker and even if the creditor does not retain any portion of the charge.

(b) Examples of finance charges. The finance charge includes the following types of charges, except for charges specifically excluded by paragraphs (c) through (e) of this section:

(1) Interest, time price differential, and any amount payable under an add-on or discount system of additional charges.

(2) Service, transaction, activity, and carrying charges, including any charge imposed on a checking or other transaction account to the extent that the charge exceeds the charge for a similar account without a credit feature.

(3) Points, loan fees, assumption fees, finder’s fees, and similar charges.

(4) Appraisal, investigation, and credit report fees.

(5) Premiums or other charges for any guarantee or insurance protecting the creditor against the consumer’s default or other credit loss.

(6) Charges imposed on a creditor by another person for purchasing or accepting a consumer’s obligation, if the consumer is required to pay the charges in cash, as an addition to the obligation, or as a deduction from the proceeds of the obligation.

(7) Premiums or other charges for credit life, accident, health, or loss-of-income insurance, written in connection with a credit transaction.

(8) Premiums or other charges for insurance against loss of or damage to property, or against liability arising out of the ownership or use of property, written in connection with a credit transaction.

(9) Discounts for the purpose of inducing payment by a means other than the use of credit.

(10) Charges or premiums paid for debt cancellation or debt suspension coverage written in connection with a credit transaction, whether or not the coverage is insurance under applicable law.

FDUTPA:”Per Se” Violations of Deceptive or Unfair trade Practices Under Federal or State Law

a per se violation of TILA or any other Federal or State law makes the act also per se violations of the FTC act, (and the applicable little FTC acts passed in various states). Florida is used here as an example. 

Get a consult! 202-838-6345

https://www.vcita.com/v/lendinglies to schedule CONSULT, leave message or make payments.
 
THIS ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.
—————-
 
Anyone who has done even the most cursory research knows that a pattern of behavior in which the name of the creditor or lender is withheld is a “per se” predatory loan. While Judges don’t care whether the borrower knows the actual lender, clearly Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court and the executive branch DO care ( and so their state counterparts); the courts are required to follow the law not create it by inaction or action contrary to the express wording of statutes. As we have discussed this will be shortly revealed as the rescission cases go back to SCOTUS which has already ruled unanimously that there is nothing wrong with the rescission statute, it clearly states the procedures and nothing unconstitutional about its process or effect.
 
Pretender lenders are rushing as many cases to forced sale through foreclosure because their days are numbered in which they can continue to do so. One reason is that their violations of Federal and State statutes prohibiting unfair trade practices are violations per se and another is that their violations are still prosecutable even if they are not on some list somewhere in some statute or group of cases interpreting deceptive trade and lending practices. 
 
For along time, it has been known, accepted and understood that withholding the name of the actual lender as a matter of practice makes each such loan and each such practice “predatory per se” under Reg Z of the Federal truth in Lending Act. The purpose of this article is to suggest that a per se violation of TILA or any other Federal or State law makes the act also per se violations of the FTC act, (and the applicable little FTC acts passed in various states). Florida is used here as an example. 
 
While the recognition that the alleged loan transaction was by definition unto itself predatory, there has been no attempt or agreement to arrive at any consequences that should befall the “ pretender lender” violator because TILA has enforcement provisions and self executing punishment like TILA rescission but it does not specifically provide an easy route to assessing substantial damages by way of disgorgement, which probably cannot be barred by the defense of the statute of limitations. 
 
If a loan is predatory per se under Reg Z as a table funded loan then it is hard to imagine how that act of “lending” would not also be a per se violation of the FTCA and, in Florida, the FDUTPA 501.204 et seq. A table funded loan by definition withholds the identity of the true lender. Table funded loans were not only part of the pattern and practice of creating illusions they called “loans” but became industry standard.
 
 It is neither an exaggeration nor over-reaching to say that table funded loans that were predatory per se became industry practice from around 2001 through the present. In other words it became industry standard to violate the Federal Truth in Lending Act, the FTC Act, and the state versions of the FTC act (in Florida §501.204 et seq). As we have seen with construction defect lawsuits starting back in the 1970’s, the fact that it became custom and practice to violate the the local building codes does not in any way raise a valid defense to violating those codes. 
 
This would fall under the Florida FDUTPA category of “Per Se by Description. “ It doesn’t matter whether the judge “feels” that some bank or “lender” or “servicer” might be hurt. That question has been decided by the Federal legislative branch, the Federal Executive Branch and the Federal Judicial branch as enunciated by the highest court in the land. Under the powers vested in the Federal government laws were passed in which the Federal government pre-empted or restricted state action in circumstances where ordinary consumers were fooled by deceptive practices. And the test is whether the least sophisticated and most gullible consumer was tricked and hurt by the trick. The same line of thought applies to state laws like the little FTC act in Florida.
 
Once the violation becomes a per se violation, the question is not whether there is injury but rather how much should be awarded to the consumer as a punishment to the violator and as a means to settle the score with the consumer. This calls for disgorgement which is not considered to be “damages” since it is described as merely preventing the violator from keeping ill-gotten gains. Attorneys fees and court costs are almost always provided by the Federal and state FTC statutes. The violations under the FDCPA may be barred by the expiration of a statute of limitations but the per se violations of the of the FDCPA and its equivalent state statutes probably is a trigger for declaring the FDCPA violation a per se violation which in turn triggers the rest of the applicable statutes for disgorgement of ill-gotten gains. 
 
Per Se by Description
The reference in §501.203(3)(a) and (c) to FDUTPA violations based on FTC or FDUTPA rules, or “[a]ny law, statute, rule, regulation, or ordinance” can further be interpreted as a formal acknowledgment of violations of a second type of per se violation which occurs when a rule, statute, or ordinance is violated, and the rule, statute, or other ordinance expressly describes unfair, deceptive, or unconscionable conduct, without necessarily referring expressly to FDUTPA.
 
Rules Adopted by the FTC
Pursuant to the FTC act, the FTC has adopted rules which describe unfair or deceptive acts in several contexts, and which appear in 16 C.F.R. ch. 1, subch. D, entitled “Trade Regulation Rules.” Some of the more well known of these include the FTC rules governing door-to-door sales,16 franchises,17 holders in due course,18 negative option sales plans,19 funeral industry practices,20 and mail or telephone order sales.21 According to the definition of “violation of this part,” in §501.203(3)(a) a violation of FDUTPA can occur when federal administrative rules promulgated by the Federal Trade Commission pursuant to the FTC act are violated. Along these lines, the 11th Circuit has confirmed that §501.203(3)(a) of FDUTPA creates a private cause of action for violation of an FTC rule even though none exists under federal law.22
 
[Whether  or not the facts alleged by the consumer are sufficient for rescission, damages remain available under the FTC act and little FTC acts in various states. The damages extend up to and including all money paid by the debtor. And according to recent case law following a long prior tradition, the statute of limitations does not apply to petitioners for disgorgement of ill-gotten gains.  16 CFR 433 — Preservation of consumer claims and defenses, unfair or deceptive acts or practices]

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Much of the material for this article has been inspired by the following article:
Florida Bar Journal May, 2002, Volume LXXVI, No. 5 Page 62 by Mark S. Fistos. “Per Se Violations of Florida Deceptive and Unfair Practices Act §501.204(1)”
Relevant passages quoted:
 
FDUTPA broadly declares in §501.204(1) that “[u]nfair methods of competition, unconscionable acts or practices, and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce” are unlawful. By design, FDUTPA does not contain a definition or “laundry list” of just which acts can be “deceptive,” “unfair,” or “unconscionable.” No specific rule or regulation is required to find conduct unfair or deceptive under the statute.1
 
There is, however, an entire body of state and federal rules, ordinances, and statutes which serves to identify specific acts that constitute automatic violations of FDUTPA’s broad proscription in §501.204(1). These rules, ordinances, and statutes, if violated, constitute “per se” violations of FDUTPA, and could automatically expose parties to actual damages, injunctions, and civil penalties up to $15,000 per violation. An assessment of potential per se FDUTPA violations, therefore, should play a part in any commercial law practice, and is imperative for any lawyer bringing or defending against a claim for deceptive or unfair trade practices.
 
Approaches to FDUTPA Liability
There are two basic approaches to analyzing FDUTPA liability: one is to determine whether an act or practice in trade or commerce violates broadly worded standards relating to unfairness, deception, unconscionable acts or practices, or unfair methods of competition; a second is to assess whether conduct in trade or commerce constitutes a per se violation.2
FDUTPA tracks the broad language of the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTC act)3and declares “[u]nfair methods of competition, unconscionable acts or practices, and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce” to be unlawful. Subsection 501.204(2) of FDUTPA in turn provides that “due consideration and great weight” be given interpretations by federal courts and the Federal Trade Commission of what constitutes unfairness and deception.
 
Based on FTC interpretations and federal case law dating from the 1960s, Florida courts have adopted and applied in various contexts a broadly worded standard of unfairness under which a practice is unfair, “if it offends public policy and is immoral, unethical, oppressive, unscrupulous or substantially injurious to consumers.”4

Categories of Per Se Violations

The rules, regulations, ordinances, and statutes referenced in the above-quoted §501.203(3) refer to sources which may serve as a basis for a per se FDUTPA violation. These sources can be broken down into three categories:
1) Per se violations whereby a statute, ordinance, or rule expressly refers to FDUTPA and provides a violation thereof to be a violation of FDUTPA; [per se by reference]
2) Per se violations whereby a statute, ordinance, or rule expressly describes deceptive, unconscionable, or unfair conduct without referring expressly to FDUTPA and when violated constitutes a per se violation of FDUTPA; [per se by description] and
3) Per se violations whereby a court, in the absence of any such reference or description, construes a statute, ordinance, or rule to be a per se violation of FDUTPA.
 
Examples from Footnotes: Fla. Stat. §§210.185(5) (cigarette distribution), 320.03(1) (DHSMV agents), 320.27(2) (vehicle dealer licensing), 624.125(2) (service agreements), 681.111 (lemon law), 501.97(2) (location advertising), 400.464(4)(b) (home health agencies), 400.93(6)(b) (home medical equipment providers), 483.305(3) (multiphasic health testing centers), 496.416 (charitable contributions), 501.160(3) (price gouging), 501.0579 (weight loss centers), 501.34 (aftermarket crash parts), 509.511 (campground memberships), 559.934 (sellers of travel), 624.129(4) (location and recovery services), 817.62(3)(c) (credit card factoring);Code of Ordinances, City of Ft. Walton Beach, Florida §23-145(a) (title loans).

CHECKLIST — FDCPA Damages and Recovery: Revisiting the Montana S Ct Decision in Jacobson v Bayview

What is unique and instructive about this decision from the Montana Supreme Court is that it gives details of each and every fraudulent, wrongful and otherwise illegal acts that were committed by a self-proclaimed servicer and the “defective” trustee on the deed of trust.

You need to read the case to see how many different times the same court in the same case awarded damages, attorney fees and sanctions against Bayview who persisted in their behavior even after the judgment was entered.

Get a consult! 202-838-6345

https://www.vcita.com/v/lendinglies to schedule CONSULT, leave message or make payments.
 
THIS ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.
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*

This case overall stands for the proposition that the violations of federal law by self proclaimed servicers, trusts, trustees, substituted trustees, etc. are NOT insignificant or irrelevant. The consequences of merely applying the law in a fair and balanced way could and should be devastating to the TBTF banks, once the veil is pierced from servicers like Bayview, Ocwen et al and the real players are revealed.

I offer the following for legal practitioners as a checklist of issues that are usually present, in one form or another, in virtually all foreclosure cases and the consequences to the bad actors when the law is actually applied. The interesting thing is that this checklist does not just represent my perspective. It comes directly from the Jacobson decision by the high court in Montana. That decision should be read, studied and analyzed several times. You need to read the case to see how many different times the same court in the same case awarded damages, attorney fees and sanctions against Bayview who persisted in their behavior even after the judgment was entered.

One additional note: If you think about it, you can easily see how this case represents the overall infrastructure employed by the super banks. It is obvious that all of Bayview’s actions were at the behest of Citi, who like any other organized crime figure, sought to avoid getting their hands dirty. The self proclamations inevitably employ the name of US Bank whose involvement is shown in this case to be zero. Nonetheless the attorneys for Bayview and Peterson sought to pile up paper documents to create the illusion that they were acting properly.

  1. FDCPA —abusive debt collection practices by debt collectors
  2. FDCPA who is a debt collector — anyone other than the creditor
  3. FDCPA Strict Liability 
  4. FDCPA for LEAST SOPHISTICATED CONSUMER
  5. FDCPA STATUTORY DAMAGES
  6. FDCPA COMPENSATORY DAMAGES
  7. FDCPA PUNITIVE DAMAGES
  8. FDCPA INHERENT COURT AUTHORITY TO LEVY SANCTIONS
  9. CUMULATIVE BAD ACTS TEST — PATTERN OF CONDUCT
  10. HAMP Modifications Scam — initial and incentive payments
  11. Estopped and fraud: 90 day delinquency disinformation — fraud and UPL
  12. Rejected Payment
  13. Default Letter: Not authorized because sender is neither servicer nor interested party.
  14. Default letter naming creditor
  15. Default letter declaring amount due — usually wrong
  16. Default letter with deadline date for reinstatement: CURE DATE
  17. Late charges improper
  18. Extra interest improper
  19. Fees even after they lose added to balance “due.”
  20. Notice of acceleration based upon default letter which contains inaccurate information. [Not authorized because sender is neither servicer nor interested party.]
  21. Damages: Negative credit rating — [How would bank feel if their investment rating dropped? Would their stock drop? would thousands of stockholders lose money as a result?]
  22. damages: emotional stress
  23. Damages: Lost opportunities to save home
  24. Damages: Lost ability to receive incentive payments for modification
  25. FDCPA etc: Use of nonexistent or inactive entities
  26. FDCPA Illegal notarizations
  27. Illegal notarizations on behalf of nonexistent or uninvolved entities.
  28. FDCPA naming self proclaimed servicer as beneficiary (creditor/mortgagee)
  29. Assignments following self proclamation of beneficiary (creditor/mortgagee)
  30. Falsely Informing homeowner they cannot reinstate
  31. Wrongful appointment of Trustee under deed of trust
  32. Wrongful and non existent Power of Attorney
  33. False promises to modify
  34. False representations to the Court
  35. Musical entities
  36. False and fraudulent utterance of a document
  37. False and fraudulent recording of a false document
  38. False representations concerning “US Bank, Trustee” — a whole category unto itself. (the BOA deal and others who “sold” trustee position of REMICs to US Bank.) 

9th Circuit: Trustee is Not Debt Collector But Reverses Trial Court on Rescission

This decision could be a lot worse for the banks and servicers than it might appear. The Trustee for a valid REMIC trust that owns the debt (and doesn’t just control the paper) is clearly NOT a debt collector. But considering that no Trustee has EVER claimed to be a holder in due course and that the Trust is in fact a holographic image of an empty paper bag, they most certainly are debt collectors. The catch is you have to plead correctly and undermine the assumption that they own the debt.

But the 9th Circuit reversed the trial court on the issue of TILA rescission. As to TILA Rescission, the 9th Circuit was merely restating the obvious after the unanimous Jesinoski decision render by SCOTUS. “The Court noted that it recently held in Merritt v. Countrywide Fin. Corp., 759 F.3d 1023, 1032-33 (9th Cir. 2014), that a mortgagor need not allege the ability to repay the loan in order to state a rescission claim under TILA. However, this was the basis of the trial court’s dismissal of the TILA claim.”

Apparently restating the obvious is what is necessary to get trial courts to fall in line with the fact that rescission is effective when mailed and is legally a perfect defense to foreclosure. But trial courts keeping adding caveats that are not in the statute even after the Supreme Court made it crystal clear that trial courts had no such option. The statute is clear on its face. Trial courts have no right to re-write the statute as they think it should have been written.

The failure of the banks to contest the rescission within the 20 day window is not the fault of the homeowner. And the inability of the banks to file such an action to vacate the rescission is a problem for the banks who have nothing to lose anyway in most of the foreclosures.

As for the three year “expiration” or “statute of limitations” there is still a simple answer. Once you mail the rescission it is effective. Once you record it in the public records, the whole world knows that the mortgage or deed of trust is void. Once you mail it using US Postal Service the parties claiming through the note and mortgage or deed of trust have no further claim unless and until they either perform the three duties specified by statute or they file an action to vacate the rescission.THAT they won’t do because they are not really the owners of the debt.

So THEY have a choice — either go along with the rescission or file something in court contesting the rescission. And the fact that they can’t file anything is testimony that they are not the owners of the debt and do not have any authority to pursue the claim on behalf of the owner(s) of the debt. If that were not true they would gleefully produce the proof to establish the identity of the creditor and their authority to pursue claims on behalf of that creditor. And so far I have seen no lawsuit or even a motion that seeks to vacate the TILA rescission. Foreclosures that proceeded despite the rescission and without the ruling by the court that the rescission was void ab initio are themselves void as of the date of mailing the rescission notice.

Get a consult! 202-838-6345

https://www.vcita.com/v/lendinglies to schedule CONSULT, leave message or make payments.
 
THIS ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.
—————-

see http://www.insidearm.com/news/00042303-9th-cir-holds-foreclosure-trustee-not-fdc/

Rescission Redo: 9th Circuit AGAIN Rules that Tender is Not Necessary

Judicial Arrogance and Intolerance Keeps leading back to the same point — that TILA Rescission is not common law rescission. Yet Judges continue to rule on TILA rescission as though it were common law rescission. Here again the 9th Circuit confirms what the Supreme Court of the United States has already said — neither tender nor lawsuit is required for rescission to be effective. Any other holding is directly contrary tot eh wording of the statute, which as a matter of law is clear and NOT subject to interpretation.

The second important part of this decision is that the Court may not lay down conditions or advice concerning the filing of an amended complaint. The corollary is that the fact that an amended complaint was filed without the rescission count does not prevent the homeowner from preserving the issue on appeal — if the lower court said don’t file it unless you plead and prove tender of money.

And the third implied issue is what Congress intended when they passed TILA and the rescission statute, to wit: The whole notion of “tender” is ridiculous in the face of the legal conclusion that the note and mortgage no longer exist (void) and the factual basis that the whole issue of identification fo the creditor may not subverted. Hence the question “Tender to whom?”

Lastly the issue of whether a Trustee is a debt collector appears to be answered in the affirmative. Yes they are and not just because of the reasons set forth in the decision (see concurring opinion). Creditors are not normally regarded as debt collectors. But there is a growing awareness that the REMIC trusts are empty; hence the trustee of the REMIC Trust cannot be anything but a debt a collector unless they can prove that they are indeed the creditor — i.e., the party to whom the debt is owed. Likewise the Trustee on a Deed of Trust MUST be a debt collector because by definition it is an intermediary seeking to collect money.

Get a consult! 202-838-6345

https://www.vcita.com/v/lendinglies to schedule CONSULT, leave message or make payments.
 
THIS ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.
—————-

Hat tip to stopforeclosurefraud.com, whose article is republished in part.

The ruling upholds the ability to rescind despite ability to repay- Split court ruling of FDCPA applying to Trustee- dissenting judge vigorously argues that the FDCPA should apply to Trustee’s for all the right reasons. See below……

http://stopforeclosurefraud.com/2016/11/03/vien-phuong-ho-v-recontrust-company-n-a-et-a-9th-cir-holds-foreclosure-trustee-not-fdcpa-debt-collector/ 

Vien-Phuong Ho v. ReconTrust Company, N.A., et a | 9th Cir. Holds Foreclosure Trustee Not FDCPA ‘Debt Collector’

stopforeclosurefraud.com

Seeking damages under the FDCPA, the plaintiff alleged that the trustee of the deed of trust on her property sent her a notice of default and a notice of sale

I

The district court twice dismissed Ho’s TILA rescission claim without prejudice, and Ho didn’t replead it in her third complaint. We have held that claims dismissed without prejudice and not repleaded are not preserved for appeal; they are instead considered “voluntarily dismissed.” See Lacey v. Maricopa Cty., 693 F.3d 896, 928 (9th Cir. 2012). Here, however, the district court didn’t give Ho a free choice in whether to keep repleading the TILA rescission claim.

Rather, the court said that if Ho wished to replead the claim she “would be required to allege that she is prepared and able to pay back the amount of her purchase price less any downpayment

she contributed and any payments made since the time of her purchase.” The judge concluded that if Ho “is not able to make that allegation in good faith, she should not continue to maintain a TILA rescission claim.” It’s unclear whether the judge meant this as benevolent advice or a stern

command. But a reasonable litigant, particularly one proceeding pro se, could have construed this as a strict condition, one that might have precipitated the judge’s ire or even invited a sanction if disobeyed. Ho could not or would not commit to pay back the loan, and dropped the claim in her third complaint.

The district court based its condition on Yamamoto v. Bank of N.Y., which gave courts equitable discretion to “impose conditions on rescission that assure that the borrower meets her obligations once the creditor has performed its obligations.” 329 F.3d 1167, 1173 (9th Cir. 2003). But, after

the district court dismissed Ho’s claims, we held that a mortgagor need not allege the ability to repay the loan in order to state a rescission claim under TILA that can survive a motion to dismiss. Merritt v. Countrywide Fin. Corp., 759 F.3d 1023, 1032–33 (9th Cir. 2014). Ho argues that her rescission claims were properly preserved for appeal and should be reinstated.

Where, as here, the district court dismisses a claim and instructs the plaintiff not to refile the claim unless he includes certain additional allegations that the plaintiff is unable or unwilling to make, the dismissed claim is preserved for appeal even if not repleaded. A plaintiff is the master of his claim and shouldn’t have to choose between defying the district court and making allegations that he is unable or unwilling to bring into court.

This rule is a natural extension of our holding in Lacey. The Lacey rule—which displaced our circuit’s longstanding and notably harsh rule that all claims not repleaded in an amended complaint were considered waived—was motivated by two principal concerns: judicial economy and fairness to the parties. 693 F.3d at 925–28. Those concerns apply here. We see no point in forcing a plaintiff into a drawn-out contest of wills with the district court when, for whatever reason, the plaintiff chooses not to comply with a court-imposed condition for repleading. We remand to the district court for consideration of Ho’s TILA rescission claim in light of Merritt v. Countrywide Fin. Corp., 759 F.3d at 1032–33.

AFFIRMED in part, VACATED and REMANDED in

part. No costs.

KORMAN, District Judge, dissenting in part and concurring

in part:

The majority opinion opens with the principal question presented by this case: “[W]hether the trustee of a California deed of trust is a ‘debt collector’ under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).” Maj. Op. at 6. After a discussion of the issue, the majority concludes by observing that the phrase “debt collector” is “notoriously ambiguous” and that, given this ambiguity, we should refuse to construe it in a manner that interferes with California’s arrangements for conducting nonjudicial foreclosures. Maj. Op. at 18–19. My reading of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), consistent with the manner in which it has been construed by every other circuit that has addressed whether foreclosure procedures are debt collection subject to the FDCPA, suggests that the only reasonable reading is that a trustee pursuing a nonjudicial foreclosure proceeding is a debt collector. See Kaymark v. Bank of Am., N.A., 783 F.3d 168, 179 (3d Cir. 2015), cert. denied, 136 S.Ct. 794 (2016); Glazer v. Chase Home Fin. LLC, 704 F.3 453, 461–63 (6th Cir. 2013); Wilson v. Draper & Goldberg, P.L.L.C., 443 F.3d 373, 376–77 (4th Cir. 2006); see also Alaska Tr., LLC v. Ambridge, 372 P.3d 207, 213–216 (Alaska 2016); Shapiro & Meinhold v. Zartman, 823 P.2d 120, 123–24 (Colo. 1992) (en banc). The same is true of a judicial foreclosure proceeding—an alternative available in California. See Coker v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., 364 P.3d 176, 178 (Cal. 2016). Both are intended to obtain money by forcing the sale of the property being foreclosed upon.

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