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Consumer Litigation Newsletter - October 2014

by Sue Bores | Oct 15, 2014

Vol. 1, No. 3
E-Newsletter Editorial Staff
Editor in Chief: Ellen B. Silverman, Esq.

Welcome to our second year and third issue of the Consumer Litigation E-Newsletter. We'd like to thank our contributors to this fall's newsletter – Randall P. Ryder, John Albanese and Jonathan Moler for their time and effort.  We've got two great articles in this issue: one on the new amendments related to student loan rehabilitation and the second on willfulness under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.  Both articles are timely and insightful and we hope you enjoy them.

The Consumer Litigation Section aims to elevate the practice of law – in both state and federal courts – regarding typical consumer transactions, credit cards, mortgages, loans, and the like, involving typical players, such as consumers, banks, title companies, lenders, brokers, and other businesses. Our section touches on individual consumer claims, as well as government enforcement actions and class action claims.  We also aim to educate our members about current trends in consumer financial litigation.

We need your assistance to make this newsletter a success.  Please help us by contributing an article.  Article ideas and/or articles can be sent to: Ellen Silverman at esilverman@hinshawlaw.com.

Thank you all for your support of our section.  Please feel free to contact us with any suggestions.
 

New Regulations on Student Loan Rehabilitation 

Student loans are different from any other kind of consumer debt. Student loans generally have much higher balances than other consumer debt, they are difficult to discharge in bankruptcy, and consumers have limited defenses against a lawsuit. 

For federal student loans, however, consumers have a number of rights for repayment and even potential discharge. One of the most powerful rights is called rehabilitation – the right to make nine reasonable and affordable payments to bring a loan out of default. Once a loan is rehabilitated, a consumer can choose from a variety of repayment options. 

The Department of Education recently changed the regulations for rehabilitation.  Here's what you need to know. 

Rehab payments are based on the borrower’s income

The new rehabilitation payment guidelines are based on the Income Based Repayment Plan (IBR)—which focuses more on what a borrower earns, rather than what they owe. Using this formula for rehabilitation, a borrower will not be required to pay more than 15% of his or her discretionary income toward a rehabilitation payment plan. It is possible that amount could be zero, but the new regulations require that the minimum payment is $5/month. See 34 CFR 682.405(b) and 685.211(f). 

The rehabilitation payment cannot be a payment based on the total amount due, or based on criteria that are unrelated to the borrower’s overall financial situation. Although the rehabilitation payments are based on the IBR formula, a borrower is not required to qualify for the IBR repayment plan in order to obtain rehabilitation payments based on the IBR formula.  If the borrower agrees to the new proposed amount, he/she must submit documentation that corroborates his or her AGI (adjusted gross income). 

If the quoted amount is not acceptable, a borrower can object and provide documentation of his or her income and expenses using this form. 

It is also important to understand that a borrower is not automatically enrolled in the IBR repayment plan. Once a loan is successfully rehabilitated, a borrower is then able to choose and negotiate a new payment plan. If a borrower does not qualify for the IBR plan after rehabilitation, it is very likely that his or her monthly payments will be higher than what they were during rehabilitation. 

The rehabilitation agreement must be provided in writing within 15 days 

Once the borrower has reached an agreement for rehabilitation payments (it usually occurs over the phone), he or she must be provided with the agreement in writing within 15 days. 

The written agreement must state the amount of the payment, along with a comprehensive description of the borrower’s rights, the terms and conditions of the payments, the effects of loan rehabilitation, and, for a FFEL borrower, the treatment of unpaid collection costs. See 34 CFR 682.405(b) and 685.211(f). 

That means a borrower should receive a letter stating the amount, how rehabilitation works in terms of number of payments and timing, along with credit reporting issues, and what happens once the loan is successfully rehabilitated. 

Limited communications from debt collectors 

The Department of Education appeared to recognize that consumers do not enjoy being contacted by debt collectors, especially after they enter a rehabilitation agreement. 

As a result, during the rehabilitation process, the Department of Education and guaranty agency “will limit contact with the borrower to collection activities required by law or regulation and communications that support the rehabilitation.” See 34 CFR 682.405(b) and 685.211(f). 

Although that appears to be rather broad, it should stop certain actions by debt collectors. For example, debt collectors should refrain from asking consumers to setup payment arrangements for when the rehabilitation is complete. That is not how rehabilitation works. Once the loan is rehabilitated, the loan is either transferred back to the Department of Education, or a loan servicer. The debt collector plays no further role in the process. 

Wage garnishment stops after five payments 

Under the old rules, wage garnishment could continue during the entire rehabilitation process. That generally resulted in a double whammy for consumers in the form of double payments. 

Under the new rules, wage garnishment stops after the borrower makes five rehabilitation payments. See 34 CFR 682.405(a) and 685.211(f). Unfortunately, the new rules also state that wage garnishment should not be ceased until after the fifth rehabilitation payment has been made, unless the agency or Secretary of Education is “otherwise required to do so.” 

It is not entirely clear what that means. As a result, if you are facing administrative wage garnishment and are attempting to enter into a rehabilitation agreement, it certainly does not hurt to request that wage garnishment is ceased upon the first payment, rather than the fifth. 

More rights to challenge wage garnishment 

Borrowers had, and still have due process rights regarding wage garnishment: prior notice and an opportunity to be heard. 

The new rules have been revised to better reflect borrower rights. For example, a borrower has the right to request a hearing to contest administrative wage garnishment if it would cause financial hardship to the borrower. The rules also more clearly define the process for wage garnishment, requesting a hearing, and what happens if a borrower makes an untimely request for a hearing. See generally 34 CFR 682.410(b)(9). 

Submitted by Randall P. Ryder
randall@theryderlawfirm.com
Ryder Law Firm
2701 University Ave. SE, Suite 209
Minneapolis, MN 55414
(612.424.3770)  

Who Is Safe Under Safeco?  Willfulness Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act

Passed in 1970, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) governs the content, procurement, and release of consumer reports used in credit applications, employment screening, tenant screening, and other consumer transactions.[1]  Because the FCRA allows for the recovery of statutory damages ranging from $100 to $1000 per violation with no cap on class action damages, the FCRA has become a popular vehicle for lawsuits.  Statutory damages, however, are only available for “willful” violations of the statute.[2]  In Safeco Insurance Company of America v. Burr, the Supreme Court held that willful violations encompass both “knowing” and “reckless” violations of the statute, and that a company could not recklessly violate the statute if its interpretation of the FCRA was not “objectively unreasonable.” [3]  Since Safeco, two different lines of authority have emerged regarding whether a company is required to have a pre-litigation reading of the FCRA in order to invoke the Safeco defense.  This article briefly summarizes the Safeco opinion and the subsequent split in authority, before concluding that the courts that require that a defendant have a pre-litigation reading of the FCRA have the better reading of Safeco 

I.             The Safeco Opinion. 

The Safeco case was a consolidation of two Ninth Circuit cases concerning the circumstances under which an insurance company is obligated to send an adverse action notice when it uses a consumer report in determining a consumer’s insurance rate.  The Supreme Court granted certiorari in Safeco to resolve those notice issues and to resolve a circuit split about whether reckless violations of the FCRA can be considered willful under the statute.[4] 

Writing for the court, Justice Souter held that the willfulness under the FCRA does encompass “reckless” violations of the statute.  Specifically, the court found that “a company subject to FCRA does not act in reckless disregard of it unless the action is not only a violation under a reasonable reading of the statute's terms, but shows that the company ran a risk of violating the law substantially greater than the risk associated with a reading that was merely careless.”[5]  The Court determined that Safeco had violated the FCRA, but that the company’s violation was not reckless.  Because the statutory language at issue was “less-than-pellucid” and there was a “dearth of guidance” from the courts and administrative agencies, the Court held that Safeco’s interpretation of the statute was not “objectively unreasonable” and therefore any violation was not a reckless violation.[6] 

The Court in a footnote also addressed what evidence is relevant in considering whether an interpretation of the FCRA is reckless: 

Respondent-plaintiffs argue that evidence of subjective bad faith must be taken into account in determining whether a company acted knowingly or recklessly for purposes of § 1681n(a). To the extent that they argue that evidence of subjective bad faith can support a willfulness finding even when the company's reading of the statute is objectively reasonable, their argument is unsound. Where, as here, the statutory text and relevant court and agency guidance allow for more than one reasonable interpretation, it would defy history and current thinking to treat a defendant who merely adopts one such interpretation as a knowing or reckless violator. Congress could not have intended such a result for those who followed an interpretation that could reasonably have found support in the courts, whatever their subjective intent may have been.[7] 

The meaning of this footnote has led to disagreements among courts about whether a company must have a pre-litigation reading of the FCRA to invoke the Safeco defense. 

II.            The Split of Authority Regarding the Necessity of a Pre-Litigation Reading. 

Since Safeco, courts have disagreed over the meaning of footnote 20 and the relevance of a defendant’s pre-litigation reading of the FCRA.  On one hand, two circuit courts of appeal and a number of district courts have found that a defendant does not have to proffer evidence of a pre-litigation interpretation of the FCRA to invoke the Safeco defense.  On the other hand, there are a number of district courts that have held that a company must provide evidence of its interpretation of the FCRA in order to make a Safeco defense.  Whether a pre-litigation reading is required is important because if no pre-litigation reading is required, the likelihood of success of Rule 12(b)(6) motion raising a Safeco defense made at the pleadings stage increases substantially. If a defendant is required to provide evidence demonstrating a pre-litigation reading, it would not be appropriate to resolve a Safeco defense at the pleadings stage in the ordinary case. 

A.    Some Courts Have Held that No Pre-Litigation Reading Required for Safeco. 

The Eleventh Circuit was the first circuit court to opine on the pre-litigation reading issue.  In Levine v. World Financial Network National Bank, the plaintiff opened a credit card account with a clothing retailer and then closed it.[8]  Three years later, the credit card issuer began purchasing the plaintiff’s credit report from Experian twice a year as part of its account review program.  Mr. Levine took issue with these credit pulls, contending that the FCRA does not allow consumer reports to be procured on closed accounts, and among other claims, he sued Experian for selling his consumer report to a user that lacked a permissible purpose.  

The Eleventh Circuit declined to decide whether it was a permissible purpose to procure a consumer report to a former creditor with a closed account.  The court, instead, found the language of the FCRA to be ambiguous and, as a result, held that even if there was a violation, it would not a willful violation as Experian had acted in accord “with an objectively reasonable interpretation of the Act.”[9]  Levine argued Experian willfully violated the statute because letters from Experian to the credit card issuer demonstrated that Experian knew it was violating the FCRA as the letters restricted sales of consumer reports to “current customers.”[10] Relying on Safeco’s footnote 20, the court rejected Levine’s argument, reasoning “Safeco makes clear that evidence of subjective bad faith cannot support ‘a willfulness finding . . . when the company’s reading of the statute is objectively reasonable.’”[11]  

The Third Circuit has followed Levine’s lead.  In Long v. Tommy Hilfiger, USA, the plaintiff sued retailer Tommy Hilfiger for providing plaintiff with a receipt that printed the month, but not the year, of the expiration date of the plaintiff’s credit card. [12]   The plaintiff alleged that printing the month was a willful violation of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA), which shares the same statutory enforcement provision as the FCRA.  Tommy Hilfiger argued that the statute was ambiguous as to whether part of the expiration date could be printed on a receipt.  The court found that Tommy Hilfiger had violated the statute but that such violation was not willful under Safeco due to ambiguities in the statutory language.  The plaintiff argued that the Safeco defense was unavailable to the defendant because it was “possible that Hilfiger ‘did not actually rely on any interpretation’ of § 1681c(g)(1), and instead ‘disregarded the statute altogether and is only now seizing upon a post hoc “objectively reasonable” interpretation in order to shield itself from liability.’”[13]  The court rejected this position:  “This argument, however, is expressly foreclosed by Safeco, which held that evidence of subjective bad faith or intent of the defendant is irrelevant when there is an objectively reasonable interpretation of the statute that would allow the conduct in question.”[14]  

In Fuges v. Southwest Financial Services, Ltd, the Third Circuit reaffirmed this holding, finding that no pre-litigation reading was required to invoke Safeco: 

In summary, [a defendant] does not lose the potential protection of the “reasonable interpretation” defense, even if it never actually interpreted FCRA prior to the commencement of this lawsuit. Safeco requires only that “the company's reading of the statute is objectively reasonable,” Safeco, 551 U.S. at 70 n. 20 (emphasis added), and that the interpretation that would allow the conduct in question is “an interpretation that could reasonably have found support in the courts,” id. Safeco does not require that the defendant actually have made such an interpretation at any particular point in time.[15]

District courts in other circuits have followed these decisions and have granted Rule 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss on Safeco grounds.  One example is the recent decision in Syed v.  MI-LLC, a putative class action in the Eastern District of California alleging that an employer violated the FCRA’s stand-alone disclosure requirement by including a liability release in its disclosure form.[16]  The employer filed a motion to dismiss based on statute of limitations grounds.  During the course of the briefing, however, the parties had an exchange about whether the employer had violated the law, and each side cited district court decisions about the legality of including a liability waiver in a disclosure.  The district judge noted the split of authority and dismissed the case on willfulness grounds finding that the employer’s interpretation of the statute was not “objectively unreasonable.”[17]  The decision is notable for a couple of reasons.  First, the parties had not asked the court to decide the willfulness issue, and the employer stated in its reply brief that it was reserving the willfulness argument for later.  Second, two district court cases relied on by the plaintiff and cited in the court’s decision had found that the Safeco defense was not available because the language of the stand-alone disclosure provision at issue was unambiguous. 

B.    Other Courts Have Found that Evidence of a Pre-Litigation Reading is Required Under Safeco. 

On the other hand, a number of district courts have held that a defendant’s actual understanding of the FCRA is relevant to the willfulness issue, and have interpreted Safeco to require that the company actually have adopted an interpretation of the FCRA to avail itself of the Safeco defense.  In Claffey v. River Oaks Hyundai, a case that was decided shortly after the Safeco decision, the defendant argued that “the Supreme Court’s adoption of an objective standard for reckless disregard takes intent out of the picture and makes irrelevant any inquiry into the subjective opinions of [defendant’s] personnel.”[18]  Judge Kennelly of the Northern District of Illinois strongly disagreed, describing the position as “utterly without merit” for two reasons.  First, he observed that willfulness can be shown by demonstrating a knowing violation of the statute.  Second, he found that under common law definition of recklessness adopted in Safeco, “[e]vidence of a party’s actions and intentions is unquestionably relevant in determining whether that standard is met in a particular case.”[19]  Judge Kennelly reiterated this position in Gillespie v. Equifax Information Services, LLC, and denied Equifax’s motion for summary judgment based on Safeco in part because Equifax had not produced any evidence demonstrating its interpretation of the FCRA provision at issue.[20]  The court concluded that Equifax’s Safeco defense “assumes that Equifax actually adopted a particular construction of the FCRA” and “[b]ased on the record as it now stands, a reasonable inference can be drawn that Equifax was willfully blind the FCRA’s disclosure requirements and ran a more-than-careless risk that its adherence to its earlier reporting format was non-compliant.”[21] 

Judge Chasanow of the District of Maryland applied Gillespie’s reasoning to the motion to dismiss context in Singleton v. Domino’s Pizza, LLC.[22]  (The authors’ law firm represented the plaintiffs in Singleton).  The issue in Domino’s was whether the inclusion of a liability waiver in a disclosure form violated the FCRA.  The defendant moved to dismiss on willfulness grounds, arguing that its reasonable interpretation of the statute allowed for the inclusion of a liability waiver.  The court rejected this argument, finding that a willfulness determination was not appropriate at the motion to dismiss stage.  The court observed that Safeco was decided on a summary judgment standard of review and at the motion to dismiss stage, there was “no evidence that Domino’s actually adopted the interpretation of the [FCRA] that it proposes here.”[23] 

Recently, Judge Pechman of the Western District of Washington found that a Safeco analysis requires that a defendant have a pre-litigation interpretation of the statute.  In Haley v. TalentWise, the plaintiff sued a consumer reporting agency alleging that the defendant had violated the FCRA by reporting dismissed criminal charges that were more than seven years old.[24]  (The authors of this article represent the plaintiff in Haley).  The defendant moved to dismiss, arguing that it reasonably interpreted the FCRA to allow for the reporting of old, dismissed charges as long as those charges were associated with a charge that resulted in a conviction.  In her ruling on the motion to dismiss, the court disagreed with the defendant’s interpretation, finding that the dismissed charge could not be reported.[25]  The defendant moved to reconsider, arguing that even if its interpretation was incorrect, it was not objectively unreasonable under Safeco and therefore, no willful violation was possible.  In denying defendant’s motion for reconsideration, the court rejected the defendant’s argument, stating that “determining whether TalentWise’s interpretation is objectively reasonable would require factual determinations (i.e., testimony from TalentWise’s employees regarding Defendant’s interpretation), which are inappropriate on a 12(b)(6) motion.”[26]  

III.           Evidence of a Pre-Litigation Reading Should Be Required to Invoke the Safeco Defense. 

Comparing these two competing lines of authority, the courts which require that a defendant produce evidence demonstrating its interpretation of the FCRA have the better of the argument.  The main source of contention among the courts is the proper interpretation of Safeco’s footnote 20.  When read in the context of the Safeco litigation, footnote 20 appears to address the following statement in the Ninth Circuit’s discussion of what evidence is relevant to a recklessness analysis:  “In some cases, [recklessness] may also depend in part on the specific evidence as to how the company's decision was reached, including the testimony of the company's executives and counsel.”[27]  In other words, according to the Ninth Circuit, the intent of the company in adopting a policy or interpretation of the FCRA and the process used to reach that conclusion was relevant to determining recklessness.

 Footnote 20 in Safeco addressed the Ninth Circuit’s position, and rejected as irrelevant any evidence about how an interpretation was adopted.  But contrary to the holding of some courts, the footnote did not prohibit any inquiry into what a defendant’s actual interpretation actually was.  Indeed, the footnote assumed that a defendant had adopted an interpretation:  

Where, as here, the statutory text and relevant court and agency guidance allow for more than one reasonable interpretation, it would defy history and current thinking to treat a defendant who merely adopts one such interpretation as a knowing or reckless violator. Congress could not have intended such a result for those who followed an interpretation that could reasonably have found support in the courts, whatever their subjective intent may have been.[28]  

The use of the word “followed” indicates that the Supreme Court was addressing the situation where a company had adopted and followed an interpretation of the statute.  Thus, the better reading of footnote 20 is that while discovery into the reasons why a company adopted a particular interpretation is not allowed, determining what the company’s interpretation of the statute actually is permissible and necessary for evaluating reasonableness of the interpretation. 

This interpretation of Safeco comports with public policy for several reasons. First, regulated entities should be encouraged to actively and prospectively determine whether their actions comply with the law.  Establishing an evidentiary burden requiring evidence of an interpretation promotes this policy.  Second, if a defendant is allowed to rely entirely on a post-litigation interpretation, then a defendant can avoid liability for knowingly violating the FCRA.  It should be an uncontroversial proposition that a company should not be able to avoid liability for a knowing violation of the law because of a clever, post-litigation statutory interpretation argument. 

Moreover, producing evidence demonstrating an interpretation of the FCRA should not be too onerous of a burden.  Even if a defendant is required to produce evidence demonstrating a particular interpretation of the FCRA, inquiries as to why defendant adopted a particular interpretation are not permitted under Safeco, and principles of attorney-client privilege should protect any legal advice received from disclosure.[29]  

Conclusion 

Given the popularity of FCRA litigation, debates about what is required to invoke the Safeco defense are sure to continue.  So far, no court has considered in detail the competing lines of authority regarding whether a pre-litigation reading of the FCRA is required to invoke the Safeco defense.  While the “no pre-litigation reading required” position is the favored position among the circuit courts, that position is not required by the Safeco opinion, and courts should take another look at footnote 20 of Safeco before granting a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss brought on Safeco grounds. 

Submitted by John Albanese and Jonathan Moler
jalbanese@nka.com
jmoler@nka.com
Nichols Kaster, PLLP
4600 IDS Center, 80 S. 8th St.
Minneapolis, MN 55402
(877-448-0492)


[1] 15 U.S.C §1681 et seq.

[2] 15 U.S.C. § 1681n.

[3] 551 U.S. 47 (2007).

[4] Safeco, 551 U.S. at 57 & n.8.

[5] Id. at 70.

[6] Id.

[7] Id. at 1270 n. 20.

[8] 554 F.3d 1314 (11th Cir. 2009).

[9] Id. at 1319.

[10] Id. at 1318.

[11] Id. at 1319 (quoting Safeco, 551 U.S. at 70 n. 20).  The Levine decision also demonstrates a post-Safeco trend of courts deciding a case on willfulness grounds without deciding whether a defendant’s interpretation of the FCRA is correct.  This approach seems contrary to the approach taken in the Safeco decision itself as the Supreme Court first interpreted the statute and then dealt with the willfulness issue.  By deciding the willfulness issue without first definitively interpreting the statute, courts are depriving regulated entities of needed guidance. 

[12]671 F.3d 371 (3d Cir. 2012).

[13] Id. at 377 (quoting Plaintiff’s brief).

[14] Id.  The Seventh Circuit, while not directly addressing the issue, has also upheld the dismissal of a FACTA claim on Safeco grounds.  In Shlahtichman v. 1-800 Contacts, Inc., 615 F.3d 794 (7th Cir. 2010), the Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of a motion to dismiss on the plaintiff’s claim that the defendant had unlawfully printed too many credit card digits on an emailed receipt.  The defendant argued that the FACTA only applied to printed receipts, and did not apply to emailed receipts.  The court found that the defendant’s interpretation was correct but also held that even if the statute applied to emailed receipts, any violation would not willful due to ambiguities in the statute and a lack of judicial or administrative guidance.  Because Shlahtichman was decided on a motion to dismiss made at the pleadings stage, there was no evidence of the defendant’s interpretation in the record other than the assertions made in its brief. 

[15] 707 F.3d 241, 252 (3d Cir. 2012). 

[16] Syed v. M-I LLC, No. CIV. 1:14-742 WBS, 2014 WL 4344746 (E.D. Cal. Aug. 28, 2014).  For other examples of district courts that have followed the lead of the Third and Eleventh Circuits, see Boyd v. CEVA Freight, LLC, No. 3:13-CV-00150-JAG, 2013 WL 6207418 at *5 n.2 (E.D. Va. Nov. 27, 2013) (“[D]iscovery into the defendant's subjective intentions, or whether the defendant actually applied the asserted interpretation, is irrelevant.”); Kivo v. Blumberg Exelsior, Inc., No. 13-CV-4170 ADS AKT, 2013 WL 6064229 (E.D.N.Y. Nov. 16, 2013) (dismissing complaint at on Safeco grounds on Rule 12(b)(6) motion).

[17] Id. at *3.

[18] 494 F. Supp. 2d 976, 978 (N.D. Ill. 2007).

[19] Id.

[20] No. 05 C 138, 2008 WL 4316950 at *7 (N.D. Sept. 15, 2008)

[21]Id.

[22] No. CIV.A. DKC 11-1823, 2012 WL 245965 (D. Md. Jan. 25, 2012).

[23] Id. at *9.

[24] Haley v. TalentWise, Inc., ___ F. Supp. 2d ____ No. C13-1915 MJP, 2014 WL 1304007, at *2-3 (W.D. Wash. Apr. 2, 2014).

[25] The court also found that it was plausible that defendant had knowingly violated the FCRA because it had removed the charge after the plaintiff requested her report from TalentWise, which implicates the issue of whether a violation can be willful under the “knowing” prong of willfulness when the violation is against company policy, even if there is a reasonable interpretation of the statute that allow for the alleged transgression.  At least one court has found that a knowing violation is a willful violation even if there is a reasonable interpretation of the FCRA that would allow for the behavior at issue.  Taylor v. Screening Reports, Inc., 294 F.R.D. 680, 687 (N.D. Ga. 2013) (finding Safeco to not apply because “the record contains evidence that [defendant’s] reading of the statute now was not its reading of the statute when it received Plaintiff's report request. Rather, some evidence suggests [defendant] correctly read the statute and knew that a consumer's request for a “report” requires [defendant] to provide the consumer's entire file. And of course, a knowing violation of the statute is a willful one.”)

[26] Haley v. TalentWise, Inc., No. C13-1915 MJP, 2014 WL 1648480 at *2 (W.D. Wash. Apr. 23, 2014).

[27] Reynolds v. Hartford Fin. Servs. Grp., Inc., 435 F.3d 1081, 1099 (9th Cir. 2006) rev'd sub nom. Safeco Ins. Co. of Am. v. Burr, 551 U.S. 47 (2007)

[28] Safeco, 557 U.S. at 70 n. 20 (emphasis added).

[29] If a defendant chooses to rely on a “good-faith reliance on legal counsel” defense, however, as opposed to a Safeco defense, see Safeco, 551 U.S. at 70 n. 20, discovery into the underlying legal opinions may become necessary.

Consumer Litigation Section Annual Report

2015-2016

Section Membership
As of June 30, 2016, the Section has 205 members.

Financial Status
The Section had an account balance of $3751.96 as of May 31, 2016.

CLEs & Events
The Section hosted 3 CLE programs and events in fiscal year 2015-16.  

Program Title

Date

Event Code

CLE Credits

Number of Attendees

Consumer Litigation and the Pro Se Project: Perspectives from the Bench (co-sponsored with the New Lawyers Section)

May 19, 2016

219637

1.0

47

Consumer Protections for our Military: The Fundamentals of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) (co-sponsored with the Military & Veterans Affairs Section)

 

April 25, 2016

219081

1.0

23

MSBA Consumer Litigation Section and HCBA Debtor/Creditor Remedies Section Happy Hour

September 16, 2015

 

 

30

 
Annual Meeting and Election Results
The Section’s Annual Meeting was held on June 27, 2016 and 8 people attended. 

The following council members were elected to serve on the Section’s Governing Council from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2019:

            Todd Murray, Friedman Iverson PLLC
            Vildan Teske, Teske Micko Katz Kitzer & Rochel PLLP

 The following officers were elected to serve on the Section’s Governing Council from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017:

            Co-Chair:  Mark G. Schroeder, Briggs and Morgan, P.A.
            Co-Chair:  E. Michelle Drake, Berger & Montague, P.C.
           
Secretary:  Erin L. Hoffman, Faegre Baker Daniels LLP
            
Treasurer:  Todd Murray, Friedman Iverson PLLC

The following individuals will continue to serve on the Consumer Litigation Section Council:

            Arthur Boylan, Stinson Leonard Street LLP (term expires in 2017)
            Carl Christensen, Christensen Law Office PLLC (term expires in 2017)
            
David Goodwin, Gustafson Gluek PLLC (term expires in 2017)
            
Ellen Silverman, Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP (term expires in 2018)

Other Section Accomplishments

  • Co-hosted a social hour with the Hennepin County Bar Association Creditor/Debtor Section, September 15, 2015
  • Participated in University of Minnesota Law School “Students Meet the Bar Day,” October 23, 2015


Submitted By:
Mark G. Schroeder and David A. Goodwin, Section Co-chairs
Date: June 30, 2016