Consumer Financial Services Legal Update Blog

New York City Defends its Community Preference Policy

On October 2, 2015, the City of New York moved to dismiss a lawsuit accusing the City of unlawfully perpetuating racial segregation in the housing industry. The arguments made by the City offer an important insight into the City Law Department’s view on the Fair Housing Act and disparate impact claims.

The New “” for the Consumer Finance Industry

The CFPB recently added a new feature to its Consumer Complaint Database: namely, consumers now have the option to publish “narratives” detailing their allegations against a company. The problem lies in the possibility that these hearsay “narratives” will be used against companies in connection with enforcement actions or lawsuits.

Damned If You Do: Second Circuit Rules That Language Included In RESPA-Required Notice Begets FDCPA Violation

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) provides that, if a “debt collector” makes an “initial communication with a consumer in connection with the collection of any debt,” the debt collector must provide the consumer with certain information, such as the amount of the debt, the name of the creditor, and the consumer’s right to dispute the debt. See 15 U.S.C. § 1692g(a). However, the statute does not elaborate on the meaning of the phrase “in connection with the collection of any debt.” The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently flagged a Section 1692g(a) tripwire.

SEC Administrative Law Judges Ruled Unconstitutional

A recent decision from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York concludes that the manner in which Administrative Law Judges (“ALJs”) of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) are appointed is improper under the Appointments Clause of Article II of the Constitution. The decision is important to the consumer finance industry for several reasons discussed in this article.

Are Disparate Impact Claims Legally Cognizable Under ECOA?

In Texas Dep’t of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, 135 S. Ct. 2507 (2015), the Supreme Court held that disparate impact claims are legally cognizable under the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”). Is this reasoning applicable to the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (“ECOA”)?

Dorsey’s Webinar on the Inclusive Communities Decision

On August 27, 2015, David Scheffel, Joe Lynyak, Nicholas Vlietstra and Eric Epstein of Dorsey’s Consumer Financial Services Practice Group presented a Webinar on the U.S. Supreme Court’s Inclusive Communities decision, in which the Court held that disparate impact claims are cognizable under the Fair Housing Act. You can hear a playback of the Webinar at this link. We discuss the litigation and regulatory implications of this important decision.

Five Surprising Facts About the Inclusive Communities Case

Because the scope of the Supreme Court appeal was limited to a question of law, namely whether the FHA contemplates disparate impact liability, the Supreme Court’s opinion does not fully elaborate on the facts of the case. The record of the underlying District Court proceedings, which culminated in a bench trial, paints an even more complete picture of how disparate impact litigation can lead to arguably absurd results.

Why Does the CFPB Want to Curb Auto Lenders’ Discretion to Charge Higher or Lower Interest Rates?

On July 14, 2015, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) and Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced they had reached a “groundbreaking settlement” with American Honda Finance Corporation (“Honda”). The settlement resolves allegations that Honda engaged in racial discrimination by charging higher interest rates on auto loans to minority borrowers. But what is the legal basis for the CFPB’s supervision of auto lenders? And what methodology did the CFPB use to establish the connection between discretion in interest rate markups and racial discrimination in auto lending?