Ballard Spahr LLP: Supreme Court Punts on Rendering Decision in Important Standing Case

By the Consumer Financial Services Group

In an anti-climactic conclusion to a closely-watched case, the Supreme Court has dismissed the appeal in First American Financial Corp. v. Edwards [610 F.3d 514 (9th Cir. Cal. 2010) enhanced version available to lexis.com subscribers]. In a one-sentence per curiam order, the Court simply stated that "the writ of certiorari is dismissed as improvidently granted."

The First American case presented the issue of whether a homebuyer who brings a claim under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) has standing under Article III of the Constitution to recover statutory damages in the absence of any actual damages caused by the alleged RESPA violation.

Resolution of this important standing issue could have affected the ability of consumers to recover statutory damages under a wide array of consumer protection statutes where actual damages are often difficult to prove or non-existent, including the Truth in Lending Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Homeowners Protection Act, the Credit Repair Organizations Act, and the Electronic Fund Transfer Act.

The Supreme Court did not explain its reasons for dismissing the appeal. Some have speculated that, during the seven months that elapsed since the case was argued, the justices were unable to reach a consensus on the result. In any event, the standing issue raised in First American is an important one and is sure to be the subject of many additional decisions by the country's federal trial and appellate courts-and perhaps the Supreme Court-in the months and years to come.

Ballard Spahr's Consumer Financial Services Group is nationally recognized for its guidance in structuring and documenting new consumer financial services products, its experience with the full range of federal and state consumer credit laws throughout the country, and its skill in litigation defense and avoidance (including pioneering work in pre-dispute arbitration programs).The group includes the firm's Mortgage Banking Group, which combines broad regulatory experience assisting clients in both the residential and commercial mortgage industries with formidable skill in litigation and depth in enforcement actions and transactions.

The CFS Group also produces the CFPB Monitor, a blog that focuses exclusively on important Consumer Financial Protection Bureau developments. To subscribe to the blog, use the link provided to the right.

For more information, please contact CFS Practice Leader Alan S. Kaplinsky at 215.864.8544 or kaplinsky@ballardspahr.com, Burt M. Rublin at 215.864.8116 or rublin@ballardspahr.com, Christopher J. Willis at 678.420.9436 or willisc@ballardspahr.com, or Mortgage Banking Group Practice Leader Richard J. Andreano, Jr., at 202.661.2271 or andreanor@ballardspahr.com.


Copyright © 2012 by Ballard Spahr LLP.
www.ballardspahr.com
(No claim to original U.S. government material.)

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of the author and publisher.

This alert is a periodic publication of Ballard Spahr LLP and is intended to notify recipients of new developments in the law. It should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult your own attorney concerning your situation and specific legal questions you have.

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