Duane Morris LLP, CleanFund and California MBA will present “What’s Shaking? A Conversation About Real Estate Finance, Mortgage Banking and Earthquakes!” on Thursday, September 22, 2016, from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in the Duane Morris San Francisco office. This California MBA MCLE networking reception offers a ground-moving educational event featuring a discussion on financing solutions for mandatory seismic compliance. The panel will also discuss the latest developments in real estate financing in the Bay Area and recent case law and regulatory issues impacting the mortgage banking industry in California. Attendees will have the opportunity to network with banking executives, real estate developers, property owners, lenders and in-house counsel from all over Northern California. One hour of General MCLE credit is pending.
A few years ago, many banks found themselves to be the targets of class action lawyers for alleged failure to comply with ADA standards regarding access to ATMs. We believe that it is likely that we will soon see a new spate of cases directed at banks and retailers relating to accessibility to their websites by persons with visual, hearing, and hand disabilities. To read more on the subject, please read the recent article Web accessibility: What e-retailers need to know by Duane Morris partner Colin Knisely .
Many states have enacted consumer collection practices laws that impose addition hurdles for lenders in their efforts to collect debts and foreclose mortgages. A Florida appellate court has just addressed what it considers may be a case of first impression in Florida: whether a collection practices statute can impose a condition precedent to provide written notice of the assignment of a mortgage loan to the borrower, and bar commencing foreclosure notwithstanding the lender’s compliance with its contractual obligations to assign the mortgage and provide notice of acceleration. Although Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal held in Brindise v. U.S. Bank National Association that the notice of assignment required by the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (“FCCPA”) is not a condition precedent to foreclosure, “because innumerable foreclosure cases are pending in the trial and district courts where defendants have raised section 559.715 as a bar to foreclosure,” it certified the question to the Florida Supreme Court as one of great public importance. Brindise v. U.S. Bank National Association, __ So. 3d __, 41 Fla. L. Weekly D223a (Fla. 2d DCA January 20, 2016).
The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) recently announced that it was considering a rule that would ban consumer financial companies from using arbitration clauses in their customer agreements to block class action lawsuits. According to a study by the CFPB, financial institutions often rely on arbitration clauses to block group lawsuits. The CFPB took issue with this practice because it claims that very few consumers were aware of the arbitration clauses or understood what they meant. As a result, either because of ignorance or an unwillingness to pursue individual grievances, the CFPB found that even though millions of consumers would be entitled to relief through group settlements, very few individual customers actually seek relief through arbitration.
With these findings in mind, the CFPB initiated the process to implement a regulation that would prohibit finance companies from including arbitration clauses that would preclude class action lawsuits in their consumer agreements. The new rule would encompass most of the consumer financial products the CFPB regulates, including credit cards, checking and deposit accounts, prepaid cards, money transfer services, some auto loans, auto title loans, payday loans, private student loans and installment loans. Arbitration clauses are already prohibited in consumer mortgages under the Dodd-Frank Act.
The CFPB does not propose banning arbitration clauses from consumer finance agreements all together. Rather, arbitration clauses would be permissible as long as they explicitly allow cases to be filed as class actions unless and until the class certification is denied by the court, or the class claims are dismissed in court. Financial companies would also have to submit any initial arbitration claim filings and awards issued to the CFPB to “ensure” the fairness of the arbitration process.
Although the CFPB is still in the early stages of considering this rule change, our clients should carefully monitor the progress of this new rule and, if appropriate, voice any concerns they may have with the new rule when the CFPB solicits public comments.
In the consumer loan context, one issue that frequently arises between creditors and debtors is whether the debtor has made a timely payment on his or her account. Both the Truth in Lending Act (“TILA”) and Regulation Z, which implements TILA, speak to this issue, but appear to contradict each other when it comes to credit card accounts.
As reported in the Wall Street Journal on December 21, banks are spending enormous sums on cybersecurity (Wells Fargo’s CEO John Stumpf says ‘It is the only expense where I ask if it’s enough’), and much of that is directed towards reducing risks from employees who unwittingly make it easier for hackers to breach a bank’s defenses. Employee error results in approximately 30% of data breaches, according to a survey released last month by the Association of Corporate Counsel. Banks in particular face substantial risk because they possess so much customer information, as well as huge sums of money.
Among the ways that cybercriminals gain access to protected data are out of office messages on work computers and phones , and vacation photos posted on social media ( which signal unmonitored computers ). A significant risk is posed by employees opening phishing emails, especially the increasingly sophisticated “spear phishing” emails, that appear to be requests from high-ranking bank officials. Many banks send employees simulated phishing attacks . The opening of one of these fake phishing emails may, for example, start a video to educate the employee on how they should have handled the situation.
These efforts are another indication that fighting cyber crime involves virtually all parts of an organization, not just the IT department.
Duane Morris received the first TD Bank “U.S. Legal Champion” Award, recognizing TD Bank’s strategic law firms that provide valued work and high performance in the categories of innovation, service, TD value investment and billing management.
TD Bank deputy general counsel Leo Doyle presented the award to Duane Morris partner Alexander Bono at the trial practice group session at Duane Morris’ annual firm meeting.
To learn more about this honor, which was reported on in the November 12, 2015, issue of The Legal Intelligencer, please visit the Duane Morris website.
Previously, Florida appellate courts were strictly enforcing the acceleration requirements in mortgages. In Gorel v. The Bank of New York Mellon, Case No. 5D13-3272 (Fla. 5th DCA May 8, 2015), a Florida appellate court has now held that the failure of a default notice to specify a date not less than 30 days by which the default must be cured does not constitute a valid defense where the defective notice did not prejudice the borrower, because he made no attempt to cure the default.
The City of Philadelphia recently announced a request for proposals to implement an online auction for the sale and assignment of some of the city’s delinquent real estate tax liens. The auction will allow third parties to bid on the tax liens, with the successful bidder assigned the lien from the city upon the purchaser’s payment at the conclusion of the auction. Title to the property against which the delinquent tax lien is sold will not be transferred. The third-party assignee would then pursue the collection of the delinquent taxes from the property owner.
Duane Morris Attorneys Jason Ohta and Dan Terzian wrote this article about bank regulators and how the Treasury can order bankers to pay restitution for violating a law or for having a defective banking practice.