Justia U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Banking
Lyons v. PNC Bank
In 2005, Lyons opened a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) with PNC’s predecessor, signing an agreement with no arbitration provision. In 2010, Lyons opened deposit accounts at PNC and signed a document that stated he was bound by the terms of PNC’s Account Agreement, including a provision authorizing PNC to set off funds from the account to pay any indebtedness owed by the account holder to PNC. PNC could amend the Account Agreement. In 2013, PNC added an arbitration clause to the Account Agreement. Customers had 45 days to opt out. Lyons opened another deposit account with PNC in 2014 and agreed to be bound by the 2014 Account Agreement, including the arbitration clause. Lyons again did not opt out. Lyons’s HELOC ended in February 2015. PNC began applying setoffs from Lyons’s 2010 and 2014 Accounts.Lyons sued under the Truth in Lending Act (TILA). PNC moved to compel arbitration. The court found that the Dodd-Frank Act amendments to TILA barred arbitration of Lyons’s claims related to the 2014 Account but did not apply retroactively to bar arbitration of his claims related to the 2010 account. The Fourth Circuit reversed in part. The Dodd-Frank Act 15 U.S.C. 1639c(e) precludes pre-dispute agreements requiring the arbitration of claims related to residential mortgage loans; the relevant arbitration agreement was not formed until after the amendment's effective date. PNC may not compel arbitration of Lyons’s claims as to either account. View "Lyons v. PNC Bank" on Justia Law
Alexander v. Carrington Mortgage Services
The district court dismissed a class action, alleging that Carrington violated the Maryland Consumer Debt Collection Act (MCDCA) and the Maryland Consumer Protection Act (MCPA) by charging $5 convenience fees to borrowers who paid monthly mortgage bills online or by phone. The district court held that in charging the convenience fees, Carrington was not a “collector” for either MCDCA claim, that Carrington was not a “debt collector” under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA, 15 U.S.C. 1692f(1)), that plaintiffs’ choice to use the online payment option was “permitted by law,” that Carrington’s convenience fees were not “incidental” to plaintiffs’ mortgage debt, and that Carrington had the “right” to collect the convenience fees since none of the mortgage documents expressly prohibited the fees and plaintiffs voluntarily chose to make payments online.The Fourth Circuit reversed in part. Carrington need not be a debt collector under federal standards for plaintiffs’ state claim to proceed. Carrington violated the MCDCA by engaging in conduct violating the FDCPA, so the derivative MCPA claim can also proceed. The FDCPA prohibits “[t]he collection of any amount . . . unless such amount is expressly authorized by the agreement creating the debt or permitted by law.” View "Alexander v. Carrington Mortgage Services" on Justia Law
Alig v. Quicken Loans Inc.
Plaintiffs filed suit alleging that pressure tactics used by Quicken Loans and TSI to influence home appraisers to raise appraisal values to obtain higher loan values on their homes constituted a breach of contract and unconscionable inducement under the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act. The district court granted summary judgment to plaintiffs.The Fourth Circuit concluded that class certification is appropriate and that plaintiffs are entitled to summary judgment on their claims for conspiracy and unconscionable inducement. However, the court concluded that the district court erred in its analysis of the breach-of-contract claim. The court explained that the district court will need to address defendants' contention that there were no damages suffered by those class members whose appraisals would have been the same whether or not the appraisers were aware of the borrowers' estimates of value—which one might expect, for example, if a borrower's estimate of value was accurate. The court agreed with plaintiffs that the covenant of good faith and fair dealing applies to the parties' contract, but concluded that it cannot by itself sustain the district court's decision at this stage. The district court may consider the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing to the extent that it is relevant for evaluating Quicken Loans' performance of the contracts. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and vacated and remanded in part. View "Alig v. Quicken Loans Inc." on Justia Law
Harrell v. Freedom Mortgage Corp.
After his taxes were paid late from his mortgage escrow account, causing him to incur $895 in penalties, the homeowner-borrower filed a putative class action against the company that serviced his mortgage. Under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act of 1974 (RESPA), 12 U.S.C. 2601, if a mortgage contract requires the borrower to place property tax payments in escrow, “the servicer” must make those tax payments on time. The right to service a mortgage is subject to purchase and sale. The rights to service the plaintiff’s mortgage had been transferred between the time of the plaintiff’s payment into the escrow account and the tax’s due date.Reversing the district court, the Fourth Circuit concluded that when servicing rights are transferred in the window between the borrower’s payment to escrow and the tax’s due date, RESPA requires taxes to be paid by the entity responsible for servicing the mortgage at the time the tax payment is due. By requiring “the servicer” to make tax payments “as [they] become due,” RESPA connects the servicer’s obligation to a payment’s due date, not the date of payment into escrow by the borrower. View "Harrell v. Freedom Mortgage Corp." on Justia Law
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau v. Klopp
The district court held defendant in contempt after finding him in violation of a consent order limiting his participation in the mortgage industry. The district court ordered the disgorgement of over half-a-million dollars of defendant's contemptuous earnings.The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's contempt decision, holding that the district court cited several proper reasons for holding defendant in contempt. However, the district court based its disgorgement sanction on an erroneous legal interpretation of the terms of the underlying consent order. Accordingly, the court vacated the disgorgement order and remanded for further proceedings. View "Consumer Financial Protection Bureau v. Klopp" on Justia Law
Stepp v. U.S. Bank Trust N.A.
A bank office that conducts no mortgage-related business does not qualify as a "branch office" of a "mortgagee" under 24 C.F.R. 203.604(c)(2). Section 203.604(c)(2) excuses a face-to-face meeting between the bank and the mortgage borrower before a foreclosure when the "mortgaged property is not within 200 miles of the mortgagee, its servicer, or a branch office of either."The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of U.S. Bank's motions to dismiss. The court agreed with the district court that U.S. Bank's Richmond office – the only one within 200 miles of plaintiff's home – conducted no mortgage-related business and was not open to the public, and thus did not qualify as a "branch office" of a "mortgagee." View "Stepp v. U.S. Bank Trust N.A." on Justia Law
Edmondson v. Eagle National Bank
Plaintiffs brought a putative class action alleging that between 2009 and 2014 certain lenders participated in "kickback schemes" prohibited by the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA). The district court dismissed the claims because the first of the five class actions was filed after the expiration of the one year statute of limitations.The Fourth Circuit reversed and held that, under the allegations set forth in their complaints, plaintiffs were entitled to relief from the limitations period under the fraudulent concealment tolling doctrine. In this case, plaintiffs sufficiently pleaded that the lenders engaged in affirmative acts of concealment and the court could not conclude as a matter of law that these plaintiffs unreasonably failed to discover or investigate the basis of their claims within the limitations period. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Edmondson v. Eagle National Bank" on Justia Law
Curtis v. Propel Property Tax Funding, LLC
Plaintiff filed suit against Propel, alleging violations of the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), the Electronic Funds Transfer Act (EFTA), and the Virginia Consumer Protection Act (VCPA). Plaintiff's action stemmed from a tax payment agreement (TPA) he entered into with Propel under Virginia Code section 58.1-3018. Propel then moved to dismiss the TILA and EFTA claims.The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of Propel's motion to dismiss, holding that plaintiff had standing to bring claims under EFTA because the harm that he alleged was a substantive statutory violation that subjected him to the very risks that EFTA, a consumer protection statute, was designed to protect against. The court also held that the TPA was subject to TILA and EFTA because the TPA was a consumer credit transaction. In this case, the TPA was a credit transaction because it provided for third-party financing of a tax obligation. Furthermore, the TPA was a consumer transaction because, as financing of a real property tax debt, it was a voluntary transaction that plaintiff entered into for personal or household purposes. View "Curtis v. Propel Property Tax Funding, LLC" on Justia Law
Dwoskin v. Bank of America, N.A.
The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the bank in an action alleging violation of the Homeowners Protection Act. Plaintiffs alleged that the bank failed to make certain required disclosures in connection with their residential mortgage loans. The court held that the statute was clear that these mortgage insurance disclosures were mandated only if lender-paid mortgage insurance was a condition of obtaining a loan. In this case, because no such conditions applied to plaintiffs' loans, nondisclosure was not a violation of the Act. View "Dwoskin v. Bank of America, N.A." on Justia Law
Sibert v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.
Plaintiff filed suit against Wells Fargo, alleging that the foreclosure sale of his house was invalid under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), 50 U.S.C. 3953(a), 3953(c), which requires a lender to obtain a court order before foreclosing on or selling property owned by a current or recent servicemember where the mortgage obligation "originated before the period of the servicemember's military service." The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Wells Fargo, holding that plaintiff's mortgage obligation originated when he was in the Navy, it was not a protected obligation under section 3953(a), and his later enlistment in the Army did not change that status to afford protection retroactively. View "Sibert v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A." on Justia Law