SW Legal Educational Publishing
SOUTH-WESTERN LEGAL STUDIES IN BUSINESS CASE UPDATES—CONSUMER PROTECTION
SW Legal's Case Updates is a SW Legal Studies service to provide briefs of the latest state and federal court cases. Review the summaries and, for cases of interest, select the case brief. If you cannot find a case of interest, return to Topic Index .
Title
Summary
No Private Cause of Action to Enforce Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
Briefed Case

Trial court dismissed a suit against the maker of a cold and flu product that contained vitamin C. Plaintiffs’ claims that the alleged benefits of vitamin C were unproven and so violated the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act were rejected as there is no such private cause of action.
(Updated November 2010)

Federal Poultry Regulation Does Not Prevent State Warnings about Poultry Safety
Briefed Case

California appeals court held that a special interest group may pursue its goal of requiring restaurants that sell grilled chicken to post warning labels that it contains cancer-causing chemicals. Federal poultry regulation does not preempt the posting of health warnings under state law.
(Updated October 2010)

Communication About Debt to Debtors Attorney Not Violation of FDCPA
Briefed Case

Trial court sided with a majority of other courts in rejecting a claim by a debtor that a letter from a debt collector to the debtor’s attorney about a debt did not violate the FDCPA. The attorney is sophisticated and is serving as intermediary in resolving debt problems, so there is no damaging result from the communication.
(Updated September 2010)

Restaurant Must Fully Comply with ADA Access Rules
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that a restaurant violated the ADA by not providing disabled customers the same line-of-sight of food preparation as enjoyed by customers not in wheelchairs. The restaurant chain must come into compliance and pay damages to the disabled person who brought suit.
(Updated September 2010)

Violation of Fair Credit Reporting Act May Give Rise to Common Law Claims Too
Briefed Case

Federal court held that a consumer who provided evidence that a bank provided false information about credit activity to consumer reporting agencies, and then failed to investigate the dispute raised by the consumer, provided a cause of action for violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act and, under state law, claims for negligence and libel.
(Updated March 2010)

Only Individuals Can Place Fraud Alerts on Their Credit Files
Briefed Case

Court issued an injunction against an identity theft protection company that would request a credit reporting agency to place fraud alerts on subscribers’ files when it so requested. The court held that under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, only individuals may request such alerts.
(Updated November 2009)

State Law Restricting Use of Telephone Autodialer for Messages Can Apply Broadly
Briefed Case

Indiana high court held that the state law restricting the use of autodialers, unless allowed by a recipient of such calls, applies to commercial and non-commercial calls. An injunction would be issued against the makers of such calls.
(Updated September 2009)

Payday Loans Violate State Usury Limits
Briefed Case

Arkansas high court struck down a state statute that allowed payday loans by calling a loan a service rather than a loan and the interest charged a service fee rather than interest. These were loans in reality, and the interest rate charged was higher than permitted by the usury provision in the state constitution.
(Updated September 2009)

Phone Company Has No Right to Use Information from Competitors about Customer Loss
Briefed Case

Appeals court upheld a Federal Communications Commission ruling that when a phone company learns it is about to lose a customer because the customer has requested a new service provider switch the customer’s phone number to the new carrier, the phone company may not contact the defecting customer in an effort to keep his or her business.
(Updated August 2009)

FDA Labeling Regulation Does Not Preempt State Law Product Liability Claim
Briefed Case

Supreme Court held that the state-court product liability judgment against a drug maker for inadequate warning of dangers associated with injecting a drug was not precluded by the requirement that the drug maker obtain FDA approval for drug warnings.
(Updated June 2009)

City May Require Restaurants to List Calorie Content of Food Sold
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that a New York City regulation requiring certain restaurants to list the calorie content of all items on their menu was rationally related to concern about obesity and did not conflict with federal nutrition labeling requirements.
(Updated June 2009)

State Law Prohibits Class Action Suit for Violation of Federal Junk Fax Law
Briefed Case

Federal appeals court held that a New York resident must sue a company accused of violating the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act in state court, not federal court, and could not bring a class action suit, as it was not permitted by New York law.
(Updated February 2009)

ECOA Sets Strict Two-Year Statute of Limitations for Violation Actions
Briefed Case

Federal appeals court held that a New York resident must sue a company accused of violating the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act in state court, not federal court, and could not bring a class action suit, as it was not permitted by New York law.
(Updated February 2009)

Ban on Class Action Suits in Sales Contract Held Unconscionable
Briefed Case

New Mexico high court held that the buyer of a Dell computer, who claimed the company misrepresented the capability of its machines, could not be required to arbitrate his claim and could not be prohibited from bringing a class action suit against the company.
(Updated September 2008)

FDA Approved Medical Device Makers Cannot Be Sued in Common Law
Briefed Case

Supreme Court held that the maker of a medical device approved for marketing by the FDA is, under the Medical Device Amendments, subject to suit for violating FDA standards, but federal law expressly pre-empts state common law suits against the device maker.
(Updated September 2008)

Unless Forbidden by Congress, States May Enforce Federal Rules Via State Law Process
Briefed Case

California high court held that consumers had the right to pursue possible remedies against sellers of farm raised salmon accused of not disclosing color additive use. Since California is adopting FDA rules, there is no conflict with federal law, and the state may enforce federal standards.
(Updated September 2008)

Wording in Debt Collection Letter Sufficiently Clear to Most Consumers to Be Legal
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that a claim that the wording in a debt collection letter was confusing and therefore violated federal law failed as the court found that most people would find the letter to provide a common sense explanation of the matter.
(Updated March 2008)

Technical Violations of TILA Disclosure Requirements Are Still Violations
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that a lender violated the Truth in Lending Act by failing to state that there were 360 total payments due on a 30-year mortgage. While there was nothing misleading in the disclosure statement, specific TILA requirements must be followed or the law is violated.
(Updated March 2008)

States May Not Interfere with the Advertising of Prescription Drugs
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that Congress has given the FDA control of the regulation of prescription drugs. Those regulations are highly specific. The states may not interfere. A challenge to the accuracy of a drug ad may not be brought based on state law.
(Updated January 2008)

Credit Card Company Statements Could Be Basis of Emotional Distress
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that while the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and Truth in Lending Act did not apply to debt collection practices of a credit card company, there were sufficient allegations to allow a suit for emotional distress to proceed.
(Updated December 2007)

Person Who Leases Car May Enforce Warranty Provisions
Briefed Case

Florida high court held that both the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and the state Lemon Law may be invoked by a consumer who has a long-term lease on a car. The lessee has the same warranty rights as if they were the owner of the car.
(Updated December 2007)

Federal Bank Rules Trump State Bank Rules
Briefed Case

Federal appeals court held that a New Hampshire law that restricted the sale of gift cards was in conflict with federal regulation of such cards, since they are issued by banks subject to federal regulation. The state law must give way to federal rules.
(Updated November 2007)

Reckless Action Needed for Damages for FCRA Failure to Send Adverse Action Notices
Briefed Case

Supreme Court held that an insurance company may have violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act requirement to send a consumer an adverse action notice based on higher insurance premiums due to bad credit scores, but the failure was not in reckless disregard of the statute, so there were no damages.
(Updated September 2007)

Consumer Protection Statute Allows Recovery for Mental Distress
Briefed Case

Ohio high court held that under the state’s Consumer Sales Practices Act, a jury could award damages for emotional distress to a consumer mistreated by a car dealer. The measure of damages is to be liberally construed.
(Updated March 2007)

Giving Creditor Conflicting Rescission Forms Violates TILA
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that for a mortgage company to give a creditor conflicting forms about the right to rescind violated the TILA rule of a clear and conspicuous disclosure statement that includes the right of rescission. That violation gave the consumer up to three years within which to rescind, rather then three days.
(Updated February 2007)

Minor Quibbles about Rescission Notice Does Not Render It Ineffective
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that a notice required by TILA, that a consumer has the right to rescind certain loan agreements within three days, does not fail to be effective because some language in the notice can be claimed by some to be confusing. An ordinary consumer would understand the notice.
(Updated February 2007)

Self-Storage Unit Must Notify Renters of Pending Sale of Property Held in Storage
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that for a self-storage facility to sell a renter’s possessions to make up past due rent was unfair because the facility failed to notify the renter of the action it was about to take. Notification is required by state law.
(Updated December 2006)

Sale of Credit Report for Impermissible Purpose May Invoke Liability
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that a credit reporting agency may have had grounds to suspect that a request for a credit report for "account review" was not a valid request since the consumer had no dealing with the company in question for four years.
(Updated August 2006)

Preventing Terminally Ill Patients Access to Developmental Drugs Violates Due Process
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that for the FDA to prevent voluntary access by terminally ill patients to drugs approved for human trials is a violation of the Fifth Amendment right of due process that guarantees protection of life.
(Updated August 2006)

Lessee of Car Not a Consumer under Magnuson-Moss or Lemon Law
Briefed Case

Arizona high court held that a lessee of a car that had many repair problems could not bring suit under either the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act or under the state's Lemon Law because, as the statutes are written, one must be the owner of the car to have a claim.
(Updated July 2006)

Consumer Rental Agreements May Be Subject to Installment Sales Regulations and Interest Rate Limits
Briefed Case

New Jersey high court held that the state's Retail Installment Sales Act applies to consumer goods leased from rental centers since consumers have the option to buy. That also makes the agreements subject to the state's criminal usury restrictions.
(Updated July 2006)

Beer Maker Cannot Be Sued for Fact that Beer Illegally Ends Up in Minors’ Possession
Briefed Case

Court dismissed a class action suit brought against a beer maker that claimed public nuisance and unjust enrichment by advertising campaigns that encouraged underage drinking and earned revenue from such activities. No direct evidence of the claims were provided.
(Updated May 2005)

Class Action Certified against Lender for Violation of Fair Credit Reporting Act
Briefed Case

Appeals court held that a consumer had the right to be granted class action status in a suit against a lender who improperly solicited for credit in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
(Updated April 2005)

Misrepresentation of Location of House Can be Violation of Consumer Fraud Act
Briefed Case

New Jersey appeals court held that for a real estate agent to tell buyers that a house they were interested in buying was in a certain school district rather than another one can be a violation of the state Consumer Fraud Act.
(Updated April 2005)

State Courts Have Jurisdiction over Telephone Consumer Protection Act Cases
Briefed Case

Nevada high court held that unless Congress specifies otherwise, state courts generally have jurisdiction to hear cases involving federal law. A Nevada consumer can sue a company in Nevada court for sending unsolicited faxes in violation of federal law.
(Updated March 2005)

Debt Collection that Results in Lien Must Still Comply with FDCPA
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that any party acting as a debt collector, even if that is not their primary business, must follow FDCPA rules in all communications. When the dispute resulted in a lien being imposed on the debtors' property, the FDCPA rules still applied.
(Updated July 2005)
Housing Leases Not Subject to ECOA Provisions about Public Assistance
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that a tenant who applied to lease an apartment that would be partly paid for by public assistance, and was refused because the landlord would not accept public assistance payments, had no case under ECOA as it was not a credit transaction.
(Updated July 2005)
Deceptive Ad Must Be Proximate Cause of Loss Suffered to Be Actionable
Briefed Case
Illinois high court held that the advertising claims made about a home construction product made years ago, which may not be true, could not be shown to have been made to the buyers of the homes who are now dealing with the problem, so there is no cause of action for deceptive advertising.
(Updated March 2005)
Corrections to False Advertising Held Adequate
Briefed Case
Appeals court upheld the determination of a trial court that the change made by a company ordered to correct its advertising, by giving greater prominence to certain terms, was adequate, despite the complaint of competitors that the correction was not sufficiently conspicuous.
(Updated March 2005)
Below Cost Sales Do Not Necessarily Injure Competition
Briefed Case
Missouri high court held that there was no violation of the state's law against below-cost gasoline sales in the absence of proof that any competitor was forced to sell gas below cost or that any competitor was forced to exit the market.
(Updated December 2004)
Language in Debt Collection Letter Must Be Precise in Meaning
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that for a debt collector to make an offer to settle a debt that was implied to be a unique offer, but in fact was not, was deceptive and so violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
(Updated November 2004)
Banks May Withdraw "Pre-Approved" Credit Cards After Further Credit Review
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that banks could withdraw their firm offers to extend credit to consumers who were told they were pre-approved for credit cards. After the consumers filled out the form, they authorized a full credit history that gave the banks grounds to withdraw the offer.
(Updated November 2004)
Magnuson-Moss Act Applies to Warranty for Goods Leased Rather than Purchased
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that the warranty provisions of the Magnuson-Moss Act apply to the lessee of an automobile. Even though the lessee is not the owner of the vehicle, the bank that owned the vehicle explicitly transferred warranty rights to the lessee and the Act seeks to protect consumers of products.
(Updated October 2004)
Drug Claims Subject to More Stringent FDA Regulations than Health Claims
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that the FDA acted within its regulatory discretion to determine that a proposed product, to be marketed to deal with a specific health matter, could be classified as a drug claim rather than a health claim, which made the product subject to more extensive regulatory control.
(Updated February 2004)
Gamblers Who Lose Money by Gambling Online May Not Sue Credit Card Companies
Briefed Case
Appeals court upheld the dismissal of a class action suit that gamblers brought against MasterCard and Visa for allowing them to charge Internet gambling debts to their credit cards. The card companies did nothing illegal, so the gamblers are not victims who may sue to try to erase their debts.
(Updated January 2004)
Requirements of Lemon Law Must Be Followed by Consumer for Law to Be Effective
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that even though a consumer had a defective vehicle that may be due for replacement or refund under the state’s Lemon Law, because the consumer failed to follow the requirements of the statute, she could not sue the automaker under that statute.
(Updated January 2004)
Hiding Defect in Consumer Product May Be Common Law Fraud and Violation of State Statute
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that a buyer of a Harley motorcycle had established a case for common law fraud and violation of the Wisconsin Deceptive Trade Practices Act by contending that the company knowingly hid defects. Such suit may be certified as a class action.
(Updated July 2003)
Purchasers of Debt Who Act as Debt Collectors Are Subject to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that a company that bought numerous mortgages, most of which were in default, became subject to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act because the company acted as a debt collector, not as a mortgage service company. Therefore it could be liable for failure to notify mortgagees of their rights under the law.
(Updated July 2003)
Use of Consumer Report for Non-Business Purposes Violates FCRA
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that a detective and his employer might be liable for violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act by obtaining a consumer report on a prospective son-in-law of the employer. Consumer reports may only be used for legitimate business purposes.
(Updated June 2003)
Reasonable Consumer Standard Applied to Advertising in California
Briefed Case
California appeals court held that the proper standard to apply to advertising is that of an ordinary consumer acting reasonably under the circumstances, not a least sophisticated consumer standard.
(Updated April 2003)
Attorney and Creditor Liable for FDCPA Collection Violations
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that both an attorney who allowed his letterhead to be used for debt collection purposes that implied the threat of legal action and the creditor that hired him, were both liable for violating the FDCPA by sending threatening letters to debtors that were not truthful.
(Updated March 2003)
Company, Officers and Employees Liable for Fraud in Promoting Commodity Trading
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that under the Commodity Exchange Act, a commodity trading company and its employees could be held liable for fraud for promoting commodity trading in ads and seminars that focused on high profits and ignored the fact that most investors lose money.
(Updated March 2003)
False Advertising Claim Under Lanham Fails for Lack of Basis
Briefed Case
Appeals court affirmed the dismissal of a suit for false advertising claims under the Lanham Act brought against a firm by a competitor. The competitor had no right of action under a federal statute regulating hazardous substances and also failed to show that words used to describe the product were false and misleading.
(Updated January 2003)
Potential Huge Liability for Party Inflicting Small Damage on Multiple Parties Does Not Violate Due Process
Briefed Case
An appeals court held that a class action case, with possible damages of $135 million, for the sending of an unwanted fax to 90,000 parties, of which only one complained, was not unreasonable given that Congress established a way for small damages per party to be aggregated into a case worth bringing.
(Updated December 2002)
Injunctions Against Alleged False Ads Will Not Be Issued Unless Ads Shown to Be Literally False
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that an injunction could not be issued against a company's ads, as requested by a competitor, under the Lanham Act, unless the competitor could show that the information in the ads is literally false. To show that the information may not always be true is not sufficient to force the ads to be stopped.
(Updated November 2002)
Fee for Going Over Credit Card Limit Is Finance Charge under TILA
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that although Regulation Z did not specify that a monthly fee charged on a credit account for exceeding the credit limit was a finance charge, the intent of TILA on this issue is clear that such a charge is a finance charge subject to disclosure.
(Updated November 2002)
Consumer Reporting Agencies Must Have Procedures to Ensure Accuracy of Information
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that it was to be determined at trial if a consumer reporting service that provides accident histories of truck drivers to trucking companies took adequate steps to ensure that the information it provided to prospective employers was accurate about accident histories.
(Updated March 2002)
Federal Telephone Regulation Does Not Prevent State Law Prohibiting Slamming
Briefed Case
Kansas high court held that the legislature could prohibit the unauthorized switching of long-distance telephone service, slamming, without being in conflict with federal regulation of the telephone industry. Congress did not mandate that state regulation was prohibited and the state law is not inconsistent with the federal regulatory scheme.
(Updated February 2002)
Attorney Could Not Have Reviewed Debt Collection Letters Supposedly Signed by Him
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that a suit brought by debtors against a lawyer for violating the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act would go forward. The court held that it was unlikely that the lawyer reviewed the 52,000 letters a month that went out under his name, so a jury could find he violated the Act by "renting out" his letterhead for debt collection purposes.
(Updated February 2002)
Discounted Tax Refund Is Usurious Loan in Violation of Uniform Consumer Credit Code
Briefed Case
Colorado's high court held that when consumers sell the right for a tax refund, for about fifty cents on the dollar to be received, that the transaction is a loan subject to usury in violation of the Uniform Consumer Credit Code.
(Updated December 1, 2001)
Lemon Law Damages Based on Value of Auto Lease to Date Vehicle Returned
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that when a lemon is returned to the car manufacturer, if it is a leased vehicle, the damages are double the cost of the lease incurred up to the time of the return, not the entire value of the lease, since the consumer did not incur the cost of the entire lease.
(Updated December 1, 2001)
Class Action Settlement of Coupons for Customers for Alleged Fraud Is Adequate
Briefed Case
Appeals court upheld a class action settlement of a suit against money wire transfer companies. The settlement of coupons to give discounts to future customers had little cost to the defendants, but the charges of fraud were dubious, so the settlement is sufficient.
(Updated December 1, 2001)
Telephone Slamming May Result in Damages to Business as Result of Loss of Customers
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that a business that suffered a loss of customers due to slamming of its long distance service without knowledge by the customer could be the basis for a suit for fraudulent concealment that could make the long-distance carrier liable for business losses suffered by the user of the long-distance service.
(Updated November 1, 2001)
Multiple Solicitation Phone Calls May Violate Law Regulating Telephone Solicitation Methods
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that where a consumer shows that a seller made more than one solicitation call, when the seller had been instructed not to call again, there could be a violation of the federal law that restricts such practices. The fact that the caller was an agent of the principal company will not eliminate liability for the principal if the calls were under its direction.
(Updated September 1, 2001)
Different Marketing for Different Strength Drugs Not Deceptive Practice
Briefed Case
Appeals court affirmed the dismissal of a deceptive practice suit against drug makers by a consumer who contended that selling a weaker version and a stronger version of the same drug in different markets was deceptive. The FDA approved the two marketing procedures since the different versions were intended for different medical problems.
(Updated August 1, 2001)
Used Car Buyer Fails to Prove Dealer Liability for Alleged Previous Undisclosed Wreck
Briefed Case
Appeals court affirmed the dismissal of a suit by a consumer who bought a used car as is and later claimed that the car had been in an accident before the purchase and that fact was not revealed. There was no evidence that even if the claim was true that there was any breach of warrant or fraud on the part of the seller.
(Updated August 1, 2001)
Business Owner Personally Liable for Restitution to Consumers for Deceptive Practices
Briefed Case
Appeals court held, in a deceptive business practice case, that a judgment ordering $6 million in restitution to consumers, plus penalties, could become the personal liability of the owners and operators of the businesses who profited from the operation.
(Updated June 1, 2001)
Compliance with Federal Safety Standards May Not Eliminate Common Law Liability
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that a tort suit brought by a consumer injured when he fell into a glass shower door was not preempted by the Consumer Product Safety Act. Compliance with the act does not eliminate the possibility of common-law liability for defective products.
(Updated May 1, 2001)
Medical Devices Regulation Preempts Tort Claims Based on State Law
Briefed Case
The Supreme Court held that under the Medical Device Amendments, the FDA's comprehensive regulatory scheme governs devices under its control. Congress expressly gave the FDA control, including the power to punish fraud against the agency, so a claim may not be brought under state law claiming a medical device maker engaged in fraud against the agency.
(Updated March 1, 2001)
Detrimental Reliance Required for Consumers to Recover Actual Damages Under TILA
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that TILA requires a showing of detrimental reliance by a consumer claiming to have suffered actual financial injury due to a TILA violation in financing disclosure forms. This makes certification of class actions for TILA violations more difficult to obtain.
(Updated March 1, 2001)
Consumer Fraud Act Sets Lower Standard of Proof Than Common Law
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that under the Illinois Consumer Fraud statute a plaintiff has a lower standard of proof to meet than is required under common law fraud actions, as preponderance of proof will carry the day.
(Updated February 1, 2001)
Non-California Milk Producers Must Comply with California Milk Standards
Briefed Case
California high court held that out-of-state milk producers that sell milk in California must comply with state labeling standards, which are more stringent than the federal standards. The state has permission from the federal government to have its own standards.
(Updated February 1, 2001)
Telephone Consumer Protection Act Does Not Apply if Business Relationship Exists
Briefed Case
Appeals court upheld the dismissal of a suit brought against a newspaper for making telephone solicitations despite being asked not to. The calls were not in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act because the consumer subscribed to the newspaper, creating an existing business relationship, which exempts the newspaper from the law.
(Updated January 1, 2001)
Attempting to Collect Debt Discharged in Bankruptcy May Violate FDCPA
Briefed Case
Court refused to dismiss a suit brought by a debtor whose debts had been discharged in bankruptcy. A bank bought a discharged debt and attempted to collect the debt. That may be a violation of both the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Bankruptcy Code.
(Updated January 1, 2001)
Component Part Makers Not Liable Under State Lemon Law
Briefed Case
Wisconsin appeals court upheld the dismissal of a suit brought by a consumer against the maker of an engine that came installed on a vehicle he purchased. The court held that the state's Lemon Law is clear that liability rests with the final maker of vehicles, not component part makers.
(Updated December 1, 2000)
False Advertising Claim Under Lanham Act Must Proceed
Briefed Case
An Appeals court ruled that Clorox had provided sufficient evidence that a competitor may have engaged in false advertising under the Lanham Act for the case to proceed to trial. The competitor had claimed that "whiter is not possible" if its detergent was used. If the claim can be shown to be false and to mislead consumers, Clorox could prevail.
(Updated December 1, 2000)
Waiver of Privacy Rights in Loan Agreement Violates Public Policy
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that a loan application form that contained a waiver of privacy rights was unenforceable. The borrower, who suffered abusive debt collection tactics, could proceed with a suit for violation of privacy against the lender.
(Updated November 1, 2000)
Court Cannot Block FDA Enforcement of Regulatory Standards on Selective Basis
Briefed Case
Appeals court reversed a trial court decision that the FDA could not prevent one drug maker from distributing a particular drug when it did not subject other makers of the same drug to specific standards. FDA enforcement may target drug makers who are found to have particular quality assurance problems without violating equal protection principles.
(Updated September 1, 2000)
Debt Collection Tactic Violated State Law, Not Federal Law
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that a creditor, attempting to collect a debt owed, could not be sued by debtors for violation of federal debt collection law, but could sue for violation of state debt collection law that limits the amount of attorney fees that may be claimed.
(Updated September 1, 2000)
Bank Customer May Have Suffered Sex Discrimination for Cross-Dressing
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that a man who went to a bank dressed in female clothing, and was told to go home and change before the bank would take his loan application, may proceed with his suit for sex discrimination against the bank under the ECOA.
(Updated August 1, 2000)
Technical Violations of TILA Might Not Result in Damages for Borrowers
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that statutory damages for TILA violations, such as failure to explain certain terms or use specific terminology, only applies to certain TILA rules. For other TILA violations there are not damages unless the borrowers can prove actual injury.
(Updated June 1, 2000)
FDA Does Not Have Authority to Regulate Tobacco
Briefed Case
The Supreme Court struck down FDA regulations of tobacco products, holding that Congress has clearly intended, via numerous statutes, to allow tobacco to be sold subject to specific regulatory controls. The FDA cannot claim jurisdiction over tobacco when Congress has assumed direct regulatory control itself.
(Updated June 1, 2000)
Debt Collection Letter Did Not Violate Requirements of FDCPA
Briefed Case
Appeals court upheld trial court decision to dismiss a case filed by a consumer against a debt collection agency. The consumer incorrectly asserted that the letter she received from the debt collector violated the law by including language that overshadowed statutory protections.
(Updated March 1, 2000)
FDCPA Applies to Bounced Checks
Briefed Case
Appeals court held that a dishonored check creates a debt that triggers application of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Under the Act, consumers must be given notice of their rights that apply when debt collection is attempted.
(Updated February 1, 2000)
Consumer May Sue Creditor for Damage to Credit Expectancy
Briefed Case
Missouri high court held that a consumer could sue a retailer for violation of the Truth-in-Lending Act and for the tort of interference with credit expectancy for intentionally and wrongfully failing to correct a billing dispute.
(Updated February 1, 2000)
Arbitration Clause That Violates Protections Provided by TILA Not Enforceable
Briefed Case
An appeals court held that a mandatory arbitration clause in a consumer finance contract covered by the Truth in Lending Act could not be enforced because the finance contract did not allow the statutory protections provided for the consumer by the Act.
(Updated October 1, 1999)
Fee Charged to Debtors for Return of Personal Property Found in Repossessed Vehicles Not Covered by Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
Briefed Case
A company that repossessed vehicles on behalf of creditors was sued for charging a fee to vehicle owners for storing and returning personal property found in the vehicles. The common law of bailment applies, not the FDCPA, the repossessor was not a lender with any interest in the vehicles.
(Updated June 1, 1999)
State Attorney General May Challenge Usury as Deceptive Trade Practice
Briefed Case
Arkansas high court held that the Attorney General could sue a company for charging usurious interest rates as an illegal practice under the Deceptive Trade Practices Act, which prohibits unconscionable practices.
(Updated May 1, 1999)
TILA's Statute of Limitations Subject to Equitable Tolling
Briefed Case
Consumers are not time barred from suing lender for TILA violatins when the violations are concealed by misrepresentation that is not "apparent on the face" of the disclosure statement.
(Updated May 1, 1999)
Attorney Use of Credit Reports of Opponent Violates Fair Credit Reporting Act
Briefed Case
Attorney representing patients in suit against a dentist obtained credit reports on dentist and his daughters. Appeals court upheld trial court verdict that such use was not business need allowed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act and upheld damage award.
(Updated 10-19-98)
Use of Alias by Debt Holder to Collect Debt Triggers FDCPA
Briefed Case
Citicorp sent letter to non-paying debtor from "Debtor Assistance." Since that gave the least sophisticated consumer reason to believe Citicorp had assigned the debt, the FDCPA applied to Citicorp even though it was in-house debt collection.
(Updated 10-5-98)
Attorney's Fees Due for Any Debt Collection Violation
Briefed Case
District court decision to deny awarding attorney's fees to winning plaintiff in FDCPA case involving a minor violation overturned by appeals court, which holds that attorney's fees are mandatory whenever plaintiff wins.
(Updated 12-29-97)
Comparative Ad Backed by Evidence Not to Be Halted
Briefed Case
Playtex's request for a preliminary injunction against ads by Gerber that stated that Gerber's spill-proof child drinking cup was superior in certain respects to the market-leading Playtex cup denied because the ad does not appear to be false or misleading.
(Updated 12-29-97)
FTC "Made in the USA" Label Standards Draw Political Fire
Briefed Case
It is unclear what "Made in the USA" means when attached to a product. NAFTA holds that it means that at least 55 percent of the labor and components must be from Canada, Mexico, or the United States. The Department of Transportation holds that a vehicle must be 75 percent domestic to be "Made in the USA." Customs says 50 percent.
(Updated 11-14-97)
Debt Collector Stopped Short Under FDCPA Due to Misleading Letterhead
Briefed Case
Court of appeals reversed and remanded to trial court a summary judgment regarding the use of misleading name of a debt collector because it deemed the debt collector to have a competitive advantage due to use of the name.
(Updated 9-12-97)

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