Monthly Archives June 2015

When movies, politics, the TCPA, and Article III standing come together, the results are magic.  This happened recently in Golan v. Veritas Entertainment, LLC, et al, in which the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals told us some things about the TCPA and Article III standing, and Mike Huckabee told us about a very special movie.  Ron and Dorit Golan were enjoying a peaceful evening at home when they received the following mysterious message on their answering machine (yes, some people still have answering machines, apparently): "Liberty.  This is a public survey call.  We may call back later."  The Golans, who were on the no-call list, did what any of us would do: they hired legal counsel, sued, and tried to certify a TCPA class. By way of background, the mysterious patriot on the other end of the line was Governor Mike Huckabee, who had been hired as a "celebrity" voice…

On June 18, 2015, the Eighth Circuit decided another class action case involving Missouri borrowers who took out second mortgages on their homes and alleged that various assignees and purchasers violated the Missouri Second Mortgage Loan Act (“MSMLA”) by charging and collecting impermissible fees.  See Wong v. Wells Fargo Bank N.A. et. al., Case No. 14-1921 (8th Cir. June 18, 2015).  The plaintiffs had obtained their second mortgage loans on their homes through Bann-Corr. Like in Thomas, Bann-Cor executed the loan agreements but then sold or assigned the loans and accompanying liens to various purchasers and assignees, the defendants in the action. The plaintiffs alleged that defendants either directly or indirectly charged or received fees in the transactions that were impermissible under the MSMLA. Although the district court resolved many motions on various topics, the district court’s granting of a motion to dismiss on Article III standing grounds is relevant…

In Thomas v. U.S. Bank National Association et al., No. 14-2265 (8th Cir. June 18, 2015), the Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court’s order dismissing a putative class action that alleged the defendants violated the Missouri Second Mortgage Loan Act (“MSMLA”) by charging and collecting impermissible fees in connection with plaintiffs’ principal loan amount. The plaintiffs alleged that they represented some 1,600 Missouri homeowners who obtained a second mortgage from FirstPlus (a now-defunct company).  After issuing loans, FirstPlus sold and assigned the loans and second mortgages to a myriad of different entities who constituted the defendant class in the case. The district court dismissed the case after concluding that the three-year statute of limitations applied to the MSMLA claims and that class action tolling principles did not save the class. This case was but one in a long line of cases against various institutions for allegedly charging and collecting fees…

In Perras v. H&R Block, No. 14-2892 (8th Cir. June 18, 2015), the Eighth Circuit issued an opinion regarding an issue that has yet to be addressed by the Missouri Supreme Court - to what extent does the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MMPA) apply to transactions outside of the state? In 2011, the IRS promulgated new regulations requiring tax professionals, at their own cost, to pass a certification exam and obtain a tax-preparer ID number before being authorized to submit federal tax returns.  H&R Block, the Kansas City-based "world largest tax services provider," decided to pass this cost onto its customers in the form of a nominal "Tax Preparer Compliance Fee." California resident Ronald Perras paid for his local H&R Block office to prepare his taxes in 2011 and 2012.  He subsequently sued the company in a Missouri federal court under the MMPA seeking to represent a nationwide class (with the exception of Missouri) based…

Following its grant of certiorari in Spokeo v. Robbins earlier this year, the United States Supreme Court has granted cert in yet another class action for the upcoming Fall Term that may have wide-ranging implications in the class action arena, particularly the wage-and-hour litigation. In Tyson Foods, Inc. v. Bouaphakeo, the Eighth Circuit recently affirmed the district court's decision to certify a class of hourly employees at a Tyson meat-processing facility in Iowa.  The plaintiffs alleged Tyson failed to provide FLSA overtime compensation for donning and doffing (putting on and taking off) protective gear before their shift formally started.  Although Tyson argued that there were significant factual differences between the workers in the putative class, the district court certified the case based on the plaintiffs' proposed statistical analysis calculating the “average” time spent donning and doffing the protective equipment, notwithstanding any employee’s actual individualized and personal circumstances.  The case was tried, ultimately resulting in a…

In 2009, Robert Eaton purchased a manufactured home from CMH.  The purchase contract contained a clause required Mr. Eaton to arbitrate all claims for any dispute arising out of the purchase of the home, but contained a clause that specifically reserved the right for CMH to pursue a lawsuit in court to foreclose upon any collateral, to obtain a monetary judgment, or to enforce the security agreement. Furthermore, this reserve clause contained “anti-waiver” language that stated CMH’s right to bring such a lawsuit did not constitute a waiver to compel arbitration regarding any other dispute related to the contract. Several years later, Mr. Eaton filed suit in Lincoln County circuit court, alleging that his manufactured home was defective and that CMH misrepresented the home as new at the time of sale.  CMH moved to dismiss and compel arbitration pursuant to the sale contract, but the trial court overruled CMH's motion to compel arbitration. The…

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