The Supreme Court gave a unanimous opinion in Jesinoski v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., agreeing in substance with an amicus brief filed by five consumer and civil rights groups: National Consumer Law Center, Center for Responsible Lending, AARP, ACLU and the National Association of Consumer Advocates. This is a rare victory before the Supreme Court for consumers.
The Colorado Court of Appeals has addressed this issue in an unpublished opinion in LVNV Funding v. Ramsdale. The Colorado Court of Appeals is an “intermediate” court, meaning that, like the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, it hears appeals from trial courts, but it is not the highest court in Colorado – that is the Colorado Supreme Court.
The debt buyer in Ramsdale, LVNV, showed that it bought a portfolio of debts from Bank of America, providing bills of sale showing the assignment. However, the only evidence showing that the defendant’s account was part of that portfolio was an affidavit produced by LVNV. The affidavit was said to be based on “business records” but LVNV failed to provide those business. The Colorado Court of Appeals found that the affidavit was not enough: the records had to be produced.
The two largest debt buyers in the US, Encore Capital Group (owner of Midland Funding, LLC) and Portfolio Recovery Associates spoke with officials at the CFPB for over a year, a fact repeatedly mentioned by Encore and PRA in calls with their investors. In September, the results of those talks were announced by the CFPB.
A proposed Consent Order has been filed in the CFPB’s enforcement action against Frederick J. Hanna Associates. This was the first enforcement action by the CFPB directly against a collection law firm and was the subject of a vigorous defense by Hanna and much comment in the trade press. Hanna lost its motion to dismiss in July 2015, made an unsuccessful motion for an interlocutory appeal and discovery was ordered to proceed.
The case attracted a lot of attention: from the Wall Street Journal to trade publication InsideARM which said that “[t]he case should be front and center for all law firms practicing in this space“. In light of the excitement about the case, the bottom line of the Consent Order is, rather disappointing: Hanna is to pay $3.1 million in penalties to the CFPB and agrees to injunctive relief(all without admitting any of the CFPB’s allegations). There is no relief for consumers targeted by Hanna – that is presumably left to private law suits.