Justia Civil Rights Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Banking
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Abelardo Martinez, who was blind, brought an action against San Diego County Credit Union (Credit Union) claiming its website was incompatible with software permitting him to read website content. He alleged this defect denied him equal access to, and full enjoyment of, the Credit Union's website and its physical locations. Martinez asserted a single cause of action under the Unruh Civil Rights Act based on two alternate theories: (1) Credit Union's website violated the American Disabilities Act (ADA); and (2) Credit Union's actions constituted intentional discrimination prohibited by the Unruh Civil Rights Act. On the day scheduled for jury selection, the court dismissed the action on its own motion based on its understanding Martinez was intending to pursue only the ADA theory, and the court's finding Martinez had not sufficiently alleged Credit Union's website constitutes a "public accommodation" within the meaning of the ADA (although the court characterized its ruling as a nonsuit, the parties agree it was a conclusion based solely on Martinez's pleadings). Martinez appealed. The Court of Appeal found the trial court erred in dismissing the action at the pleadings stage based on the ADA's public-accommodation element: a disabled plaintiff can state a viable ADA claim for alleged unequal access to a private entity's website if there is a sufficient nexus between the claimed barriers and the plaintiff's ability to use or enjoy the goods and services offered at the defendant's physical facilities. Under this standard, the Court found Martinez alleged a sufficient nexus to state an ADA violation. The Court rejected the Credit Union's alternate argument that the dismissal was proper because the United States Congress has not enacted specific website accessibility standards. View "Martinez v. San Diego County Credit Union" on Justia Law

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Brintley is blind. To navigate the internet, she uses a screen reader that scans webpages and narrates their contents. The technology struggles with some material, especially pictures and video. With some effort, companies can make their websites fully screen-reader compatible. The credit unions, established under Michigan law, maintain a limited brick-and-mortar presence; both operate websites. Brintley tried to browse these websites but found her screen reader unable to process some of their content. A “tester” of website compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Brintley sued the credit unions, seeking compensatory and injunctive relief, arguing that the websites were a “service” offered through a “place of public accommodation,” entitling her to the “full and equal enjoyment” of the websites. 42 U.S.C. 12182(a). The district court rejected an argument that Brintley failed to satisfy Article III standing. The Sixth Circuit reversed. To establish standing, Brintley must show that she sustained an injury in fact, that she can trace the injury to the credit unions’ conduct, and that a decision in her favor would redress the injury. Brintley must show an invasion of a “legally protected interest” that is “concrete and particularized” and “actual or imminent” and that affects her in some “personal and individual way.” Brintley lacks eligibility under state law to join either credit union and her complaint does not convey any interest in becoming eligible to do so. View "Brintley v. Belle River Community Credit Union" on Justia Law

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DLC filed a 42 U.SC. 1983 action against defendant, the Director of the South Dakota Division of Banking, alleging that license revocation without a pre-deprivation hearing deprived DLC of its procedural due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. On appeal, defendant challenged the district court's denial of absolute or qualified immunity and its decision that the quick action exception to a pre-deprivation hearing was not applicable.The Eighth Circuit reversed, holding that defendant was entitled to qualified immunity because DLC failed to show a violation of a constitutional right that was clearly established. The court held that there was no procedural due process violation where DLC was on notice that the Division was investigating the lawfulness of its new loan product, DLC was afforded an opportunity to provide additional information addressing the Division's concerns, and the revocation order had no more of an effect on DLC's business than the simultaneously issued cease and desist order. View "Dollar Loan Center of South Dakota, LLC v. Afdahl" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the circuit court’s judgment and decree of foreclosure finding in favor of Bank and against Appellant on his counterclaims against Bank and his third-party complaint against the former vice president of commercial lending at Bank (“VP”). The court held (1) the circuit court erred in failing to submit Appellant’s legal counterclaims and third-party claims to the jury; (2) the circuit court erred in granting Bank and VP’s motion to strike Appellant’s jury trial demand based on a predispute jury-waiver clause contained in the loan agreement; and (3) Marvell Light & Ice Co. v. General Electric Co., 259 S.W. 741 (1924), is overruled to the extent that it holds that there is a per se new business rule preventing lost profits unless the business is an old business. View "Tilley v. Malvern National Bank" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was whether, under Connecticut law, after a judgment debtor’s wages have been garnished, the remaining wages are exempt from execution, and whether the transfer of those wages to a third party constitutes a fraudulent transfer. Pursuant to two state court judgments, The Cadle Company was Terry Fletcher’s judgment creditor, Fletcher owing the company more than $3 million. Since at least 2005, Terry has transferred more than $300,000 of his residual wages to the bank account of his wife, Marguerite Fletcher. The Cadle Company sued the Fletchers in federal district court, alleging, inter alia, that the transfer violated the Connecticut Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act (CUFTA). The district court granted the Fletchers’ motion for partial summary judgment, granted The Cadle Company’s motion for partial summary judgment, and ultimately rendered judgment for The Cadle Company in the amount of $401,426 on its CUFTA claim. The Fletchers appealed to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. The Second Circuit subsequently certified a question to the Supreme Court, which the Court accepted. The Supreme Court answered that Terry’s residual wages would not have been exempt from execution if he had retained possession of them, and therefore, they were subject to execution after Terry transferred them to his wife’s account. View "Cadle Co. v. Fletcher" on Justia Law

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Appellant filed two legal actions. Appellant filed a complaint in federal court alleging violations of his due process and equal protection rights. The federal district court dismissed the complaint, and Appellant appealed. Appellant also filed this original action seeking a writ of mandamus to compel an employee of JPMorgan Chase Bank to pay him a certain amount of money. The court of appeals dismissed the complaint. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant’s claims were barred by res judicata, Appellant had an adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, and Appellant failed to identify a clear legal right to the relief he sought. View "State ex rel. McQueen v. Weibling-Holliday" on Justia Law

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BAC Home Loans Servicing, LP filed a complaint for foreclosure against Scott and Kristina Greenleaf. Bank of America, N.A. (the Bank) was substituted for BAC after the entities merged. After a trial, the court entered a judgment of foreclosure in favor of the Bank. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment based on the Bank’s lack of standing. On remand, the district court dismissed without prejudice the action due to the Bank’s standing defect. Scott appealed, arguing that the court was compelled to enter judgment in his favor because the Court vacated the Bank’s judgment after a completed trial. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that, under the circumstances of this case, the district court properly disposed of the case by entering a dismissal without prejudice. View "Bank of America, N.A. v. Greenleaf" on Justia Law

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The City filed three separate fair housing lawsuits against Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Citigroup, alleging that each bank had engaged in a decade-long pattern of discriminatory lending by targeting minorities for predatory loans. Each complaint contained the same two causes of action: one claim arising under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), 42 U.S.C. 3601 et seq., as well as an unjust enrichment claim under Florida law. The district court dismissed the City's FHA claim. The court found that the City has constitutional standing to pursue its FHA claims; under controlling Supreme Court precedent, the “zone of interests” for the FHA extends as broadly as permitted under Article III of the Constitution, and therefore encompasses the City’s claim; while the court agreed with the district court that the FHA contains a proximate cause requirement, the court found that this analysis is based on principles drawn from the law of tort, and that the City has adequately alleged proximate cause; and the court concluded that the “continuing violation doctrine” can apply to the City’s claims, if they are adequately pled. The court concluded that the district court erred in dismissing the City’s federal claims with prejudice and in denying the City’s motion for leave to amend on the grounds of futility because the district court imposed too stringent a zone of interests test and wrongly applied the proximate cause analysis. The court affirmed the dismissal of the state law claim because the benefits the City allegedly conferred on the defendants were not sufficiently direct to plead an unjust enrichment claim under Florida law. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "City of Miami v. CitiGroup Inc." on Justia Law

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The City filed three separate fair housing lawsuits against Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Citigroup, alleging that each bank had engaged in a decade-long pattern of discriminatory lending by targeting minorities for predatory loans. Each complaint contained the same two causes of action: one claim arising under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), 42 U.S.C. 3601 et seq., as well as an unjust enrichment claim under Florida law. The district court dismissed the City's FHA claim. The court found that the City has constitutional standing to pursue its FHA claims; under controlling Supreme Court precedent, the “zone of interests” for the FHA extends as broadly as permitted under Article III of the Constitution, and therefore encompasses the City’s claim; while the court agreed with the district court that the FHA contains a proximate cause requirement, the court found that this analysis is based on principles drawn from the law of tort, and that the City has adequately alleged proximate cause; and the court concluded that the “continuing violation doctrine” can apply to the City’s claims, if they are adequately pled. The court concluded that the district court erred in dismissing the City’s federal claims with prejudice and in denying the City’s motion for leave to amend on the grounds of futility because the district court imposed too stringent a zone of interests test and wrongly applied the proximate cause analysis. The court affirmed the dismissal of the state law claim because the benefits the City allegedly conferred on the defendants were not sufficiently direct to plead an unjust enrichment claim under Florida law. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "City of Miami v. Wells Fargo & Co." on Justia Law

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The City filed suit against the Bank, alleging that the Bank engaged in a decade-long pattern of discriminatory lending in the residential housing market that caused the City economic harm. The City asserts a claim arising under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), 42 U.S.C. 3601 et seq., as well as an unjust enrichment claim under Florida law. The district court dismissed the City's FHA claim with prejudice. The court found that the City has constitutional standing to pursue its FHA claims; under controlling Supreme Court precedent, the “zone of interests” for the FHA extends as broadly as permitted under Article III of the Constitution, and therefore encompasses the City’s claim; while the court agreed with the district court that the FHA contains a proximate cause requirement, the court found that this analysis is based on principles drawn from the law of tort, and that the City has adequately alleged proximate cause; and the court concluded that the “continuing violation doctrine” can apply to the City’s claims, if they are adequately pled. The court concluded that the district court erred in dismissing the City’s federal claims with prejudice and in denying the City’s motion for leave to amend on the grounds of futility because the district court imposed too stringent a zone of interests test and wrongly applied the proximate cause analysis. The court affirmed the dismissal of the state law claim because the benefits the City allegedly conferred on the defendants were not sufficiently direct to plead an unjust enrichment claim under Florida law. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "City of Miami v. Bank of America Corp." on Justia Law