Financial Services Litigation

In 2020, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) promulgated 12 C.F.R. § 1006.26, amending Regulation F, to implement and interpret the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). It will become effective on November 30, 2021. Section 1006.26 prohibits debt collectors from bringing or threatening to bring legal action to collect a time-barred debt. Whether a debt is time-barred depends on the applicable statute of limitations under state law. To clarify this rule, the CFPB defines two terms not defined in the FDCPA: “statute of limitations” and “time-barred debt.” “Statute of limitations” means the period prescribed by applicable law for bringing a legal action against the consumer to collect a debt. “Time-barred debt” means a debt for which the applicable statute of limitations has expired.
Continue Reading Strict Liability for Debt Collectors Attempting to Collect a Time-Barred Debt Through Litigation

In Hunstein v. Preferred Collection and Management Services, Inc., 994 F.3d 1341 (11th. Cir. 2021), the Eleventh Circuit held that a debt collector’s communication of a consumer’s personal information to a third party print vendor violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act’s prohibition on third party communications in connection with debt collection under 15 U.S.C. § 1692c(b).

Hunstein will likely require major operational changes for many loan servicers. At a minimum, loan servicers who qualify as a “debt collector” under the FDCPA should rethink how to utilize third party vendors for such basic operations as printing and higher functions such as loss mitigation. Although it is theoretically possible to continue using such vendors without communicating the personal information of the consumer, the efficiencies of using such vendors will be diminished. The short term solution to avoid exposure under Hunstein will likely entail bringing such services in house—a major shift in industry practices.
Continue Reading 11th Circuit Issues FDCPA Decision That Could Dramatically Impact Mortgage Servicers Operations

On June 20, 2020, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed House Bill 4204 into law. The bill requires lenders to defer loan payments and refrain from enforcing default remedies on certain secured obligations during the “emergency period” beginning March 8, 2020, and ending September 30, 2020, unless modified by the governor. In this update, we outline

Under California’s Homeowner Bill of Rights (HBOR), if a borrower obtains injunctive relief or is awarded damages pursuant to Civil Code Section 2924.12(h), the court may award the prevailing borrower reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.

In cases where the court ultimately determines that the mortgage lender or servicer violated the provision of the HBOR outlined in Civ. Code Section 2924.12(a)(1) and (b), the borrower would undoubtedly be entitled to recover attorney’s fees and costs.  However, HBOR does not make clear whether the borrower would be entitled to attorney’s fees and costs in cases where the borrower applies for injunctive relief before the court makes an ultimate decision on the merits of the case. Specifically, the statute does not clarify when (i.e., in what phase of the litigation) the borrower is entitled to an award of fees and costs, nor does it distinguish between permanent and preliminary injunctions. And in the few iterations of the HBOR since it became effective in 2013, Civil Code Section 2924.12 has remained largely unaltered, substantively, on attorney fee and costs rewards for injunctive relief.
Continue Reading California’s Third District Court of Appeal Expands a Borrower’s Right to Attorney’s Fees Under the Homeowner Bill of Rights

Beyond the Financial Services Modernization Act (also known as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act), which generally provides that a financial institution may not disclose a customer’s nonpublic personal information unless it falls under one of the general exceptions of 15 U.S.C. § 6802(e) (e.g., consent of the customer or compliance with a properly authorized civil subpoena), the failure to domesticate a subpoena remains one of the most utilized arguments in motions to quash.
Continue Reading Quashing Subpoenas for Borrower Records

The linchpin of the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) is debt collection. Not surprisingly, litigation often focuses on the crucial question of what is a “debt” and who is a “debt collector” for purposes of the FDCPA. In Ho v. ReconTrust Co., NA, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently concluded that the enforcement of a security instrument by nonjudicial foreclosure is not debt collection as a matter of law.

The Ho court explained that “[t]he object of a non-judicial foreclosure is to retake and resell the security, not to collect money from the borrower[,]” and because “California law does not allow for a deficiency judgment following non-judicial foreclosure[,]” “the foreclosure extinguishes the entire debt even if it results in a recovery of less than the amount of the debt.” On this basis, the Ho court held that “actions taken to facilitate a non-judicial foreclosure, such as sending the notice of default and notice of sale, are not attempts to collect ‘debt’ as that term is defined by the FDCPA.”
Continue Reading McNair v. Maxwell & Morgan PC: Judicial and Nonjudicial Foreclosure—A Distinction With a Difference