Justia U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Consumer Law
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Pioneer Credit Recovery, Inc. sent plaintiff-appellant Jason Tavernaro a letter attempting to collect a student loan debt. A district court dismissed plaintiff’s complaint filed under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) for failing to state a claim because the alleged facts were insufficient to establish Pioneer used materially misleading, unfair or unconscionable means to collect the debt. To this, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed: violations of the FDCPA is determined through the perspective of a reasonable consumer, and Pioneer’s letter was not materially misleading. View "Tavernaro v. Pioneer Credit Recovery" on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals' review was one of first impression in the circuit: whether extended overdraft charges made to a checking account were “interest” charges governed by 12 C.F.R. 7.4001, or “non-interest charges and fees” for “deposit account services” governed by 12 C.F.R. 7.4002. Petitioner Berkley Walker held a checking account at the national bank BOKF, National Association, d/b/a Bank of Albuquerque, N.A. (“BOKF”). He filed a putative class action challenging BOKF’s “Extended Overdraft Fees,” claiming they were in violation of the interest rate limit set by the National Bank Act of 1864 (“NBA”). BOKF charged Walker Extended Overdraft Fees after he overdrew his checking account, BOKF elected to pay the overdraft, and then Walker failed to timely pay BOKF for covering the overdraft. Walker alleges that when he overdrew his account and BOKF paid his overdraft, BOKF was extending him credit and this extension of credit was akin to a loan. Walker argues that the Extended Overdraft Fees of $6.50 he was charged for each business day his account remained negative after a grace period constituted “interest” upon this extension of credit and were in excess of the interest rate limit set by the NBA. The district court concluded that BOKF’s Extended Overdraft Fees were fees for “deposit account services” and were not “interest” under the NBA. The district court granted BOKF’s motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) and dismissed Walker’s action for failure to state a claim. Finding no reversible error in the district court judgment, the Tenth Circuit affirmed. View "Walker v. BOKF National Assoc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs Robin Thornton and Michael Lucero alleged defendants Tyson Foods, Inc., Cargill Meat Solutions, Corp., JBS USA Food Company, and National Beef Packing Company, LLC, used deceptive and misleading labels on their beef products. In particular, plaintiffs contended the “Product of the U.S.A.” label on defendants’ beef products was misleading and deceptive in violation of New Mexico law because the beef products did not originate from cattle born and raised in the United States. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals determined the federal agency tasked with ensuring the labels were not misleading or deceptive preapproved the labels at issue here. In seeking to establish that defendants’ federally approved labels were nevertheless misleading and deceptive under state law, plaintiffs sought to impose labeling requirements that were different than or in addition to the federal requirements. The Tenth Circuit concluded plaintiffs’ deceptive-labeling claims were expressly preempted by federal law. Further, the Court agreed with the district court that plaintiffs failed to state a claim for false advertising. View "Thornton, et al. v. Tyson Foods, et al." on Justia Law

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A group of pet owners brought a class action against Champion Petfoods USA, Inc., alleging representations on Champion’s packaging on its Acana and Orijen brands of dog food were false and misleading. Champion’s dog food packaging contained a number of claims about the product, advertising the food as “Biologically Appropriate,” “Trusted Everywhere,” using “Fresh and Regional Ingredients,” and containing “Ingredients We Love [From] People We Trust.” The district court dismissed the claims as either unactionable puffery or overly subjective and therefore not materially misleading to a reasonable consumer. To this, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, finding Plaintiffs’ claims failed to allege materially false or misleading statements on Champion’s packaging because the phrases failed to deceive or mislead reasonable consumers on any material fact. View "Renfro, et al. v. Champion Petfoods USA, et al." on Justia Law

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Alexander Hood, a Colorado resident, appealed the dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction of his putative class-action claim against American Auto Care (AAC) in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado. AAC, a Florida limited liability company whose sole office was in Florida, sold vehicle service contracts that provided vehicle owners with extended warranties after the manufacturer’s warranty expires. Hood’s complaint alleged AAC violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and invaded Hood’s and the putative class members’ privacy by directing unwanted automated calls to their cell phones without consent. Although he was then residing in Colorado, the calls came from numbers with a Vermont area code. He had previously lived in Vermont, and his cell phone number had a Vermont area code. Hood was able to trace one such call to AAC. Although it determined that Hood had alleged sufficient facts to establish that AAC purposefully directs telemarketing at Colorado, the trial court held that the call to Hood’s Vermont phone number did not arise out of, or relate to, AAC’s calls to Colorado phone numbers. In light of Ford Motor Co. v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court, 141 S. Ct. 1017 (2021), the Tenth Circuit determined the trial court's dismissal could not stand. "The argument regarding 'purposeful direction' ... is implicitly rejected by Ford, and the argument regarding 'arise out of or relate to' ... is explicitly rejected. ... We also determine that AAC has not shown a violation of traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice." View "Hood v. American Auto Care, et al." on Justia Law

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On a Monday, Medicredit, a debt collection agency, received a letter from a consumer, plaintiff-appellee Elizabeth Lupia, demanding that it cease calling her about an unpaid medical debt. The next day, before Medicredit processed the letter, it called Ms. Lupia again about the debt. This call served as grounds for Ms. Lupia's suit under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). According to Medicredit, its Tuesday call was a bona fide error, thereby shielding the agency from liability. Lupia argued Medicredit’s policy allowed for more time than that: permitting up to three business days of lag time between its receipt and processing of mail (which was how long it took Medicredit to process the letter). For that, Lupia contended, Medicredit could not shield itself under the bona fide-error defense. The district court agreed and granted Lupia’s motion for summary judgment. On appeal, Medicredit challenged Lupia’s standing in federal court and claimed the district court committed several reversible errors in granting Lupia’s motion. After review, the Tenth Circuit found no merit in any of these claims, and affirmed the district court. View "Lupia v. Medicredit" on Justia Law

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This appeal arose because debtor-appellant Margaret Kinney failed to make some of the required mortgage payments within her Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan’s five-year period. Shortly after the five-year period ended, however, she made the back payments and requested a discharge. The bankruptcy court denied the request and dismissed the case. The issue on appeal was whether the bankruptcy court could grant a discharge, and the answer turned on how the Tenth Circuit characterized Kinney’s late payments. She characterized them as a cure for her earlier default; HSBC Bank characterized them as an impermissible effort to modify the plan. The Tenth Circuit agreed with the bank and affirmed dismissal. View "Kinney v. HSBC Bank USA" on Justia Law

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The overarching issue here presented for the Tenth Circuit's review centered on whether the economic-loss rule prevented use of tort remedies for a lender’s failure to carry out its promises. The claims grew out of Plaintiff-appellant Mary Mayotte’s mortgage with U.S. Bank, which used Wells Fargo to service the loan. Mayotte sought modification of the loan and alleged that Wells Fargo had agreed to modify her loan if she withheld three payments. Based on this alleged understanding, Mayotte withheld three payments. But Wells Fargo denied agreeing to modify the loan, and U.S. Bank eventually foreclosed. The foreclosure spurred Mayotte to sue U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo, asserting statutory claims (violation of the Colorado Consumer Protection Act), tort claims (negligence, negligent supervision, and negligent hiring), and a claim for a declaratory judgment. The district court granted summary judgment to U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo, relying in part on the economic-loss rule and Mayotte’s failure to present evidence of compensatory damages. The district court ultimately entered judgment in favor of defendants-lenders, rejecting Mayotte's effort to recover tort remedies for wrongful conduct consisting solely of alleged contractual breaches. To this, the Tenth Circuit agreed with the district court and affirmed judgment. View "Mayotte v. U.S. Bank" on Justia Law

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Deborah and Dallas Platt purchased a 2016 Winnebago Era RV in 2016. This purchase was subject to Winnebago’s New Vehicle Limited Warranty, which required the Platts to bring the RV for repairs to an authorized dealer and then, if those repairs were insufficient, to Winnebago itself before they could bring an action against Winnebago. The RV suffered from a litany of defects and the Platts took it in for warranty repairs to Camping World of Golden, Colorado (Camping World), an authorized Winnebago dealership, on numerous occasions for numerous separate defects within the first seven and a half months of their ownership. When the Camping World repairs did not resolve the Platts’ issues with the RV, they scheduled an appointment for repairs with Winnebago in Forest City, Iowa, but they subsequently cancelled the appointment, claiming they had "lost faith" that Winnebago would repair their RV. The Platts sued Winnebago for breach of express and implied warranties under both the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and Colorado state law, and also for deceptive trade practices in violation of the Colorado Consumer Protection Act (CCPA). Winnebago filed a motion for summary judgment which the district court granted, dismissing all of the Platts’ claims. The Platts appealed, but finding no reversible error, the Tenth Circuit affirmed. View "Platt v. Winnebago Industries" on Justia Law

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Elizabeth Frost died in an accidental house fire. At the time, ADT provided security monitoring services to the premises. During the fire, ADT received several alerts through its monitoring system. Although ADT attempted to call Frost and the back-up number listed on her account, it did not get through. After several such attempts, ADT cleared the alerts without contacting emergency services. The administrator of Frost’s estate and her minor heir, M.F., sued ADT. The central theme of the complaint was that ADT’s failure to notify emergency services contradicted representations on its website that it would do so, and that failure wrongfully caused or contributed to Frost’s death. The district court dismissed the complaint, holding the one-year suit limitation provision in the contract between ADT and Frost barred the claims and that Claimants failed to state a claim with respect to certain counts. Because the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals found the contract between Frost and ADT provided an enforceable suit-limitation provision that barred the claims at issue, it affirmed dismissal. View "Frost v. ADT" on Justia Law