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Mary focuses her practice on litigation and strategy in lender liability, check and bank operation, class action, consumer finance, fiduciary matters, and creditor’s rights disputes. While Mary litigates extensively in the federal and state trial and appellate courts in Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, she represents banking clients in cases of all sizes nationwide.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently reversed a district court’s ruling, which had denied a motion to compel arbitration of Opportunity Financial (OppFi) on the basis that the arbitration clause was substantively unconscionable due to the choice of law provision in the loan agreement containing the arbitration clause. The Ninth Circuit vacated the decision and directed the district court to refer the matter to arbitration.

The United States District Court for the District of Maryland recently denied a mortgage servicer’s motion to dismiss a putative class action claim pursuant to the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) § 2605(g), providing insight as to what is required to state a claim for statutory damages with respect to alleged mishandling of escrow accounts.

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) recently announced the approval of an additional $4.9 billion in student loan forgiveness for 73,000 individuals. The relief was provided through several modifications to the income-driven repayment (IDR) forgiveness and Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PLSF) programs. To date, the Biden Administration has forgiven $136.6 billion in student loans for more than 3.7 million borrowers.

We are pleased to share our annual review of regulatory and legal developments in the consumer financial services industry. With active federal and state legislatures, consumer financial services providers faced a challenging 2023. Courts across the country issued rulings that will have immediate and lasting impacts on the industry. Our team of more than 140 professionals has prepared this concise, yet thorough analysis of the most important issues and trends throughout our industry. We not only examined what happened in 2023, but also what to expect — and how to prepare — for the months ahead.

On January 15, the American Arbitration Association (AAA) issued amended Mass Arbitration Supplementary Rules and new Consumer Mass Arbitration and Mediation Fee Schedules (collectively, the New Rules). The New Rules will apply to all mass arbitration cases filed on or after January 15, but not to any mass arbitrations filed prior to that date. The New Rules aim to reduce friction and enhance process efficiency. However, unless the New Rules are supplemented by a well-constructed pre-dispute arbitration agreement, they will not solve the principal problems posed by mass arbitrations.

Please join Troutman Pepper Partner Chris Willis, along with colleagues Lori Sommerfield and Mary Zinsner, as they discuss the impact of a consent order issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in May 2022 relating to cross-border garnishment practices and the implications on the financial services industry over the last year and a half. Chris, Lori, and Mary emphasize the CFPB’s expectations (which include the necessity of establishing a compliance program for garnishment processes and conducting 50-state surveys to better understand state garnishment laws), cross-border garnishment law issues, and the impact of the consent order on litigation. They also address how financial institution clients can comply with the CFPB’s regulatory expectations regarding the processing of garnishment orders in the future.

A group of non-profit consumer advocacy organizations, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, and the American Association of Residential Mortgage Regulators filed two separate briefs asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a Second Circuit decision holding that New York’s escrow interest law is preempted by the National Bank Act (NBA) under the “ordinary legal principles of pre-emption.” Under the NBA, a state law is preempted if the law “prevents or significantly interferes with the exercise by the national bank of its powers.”

On November 20, a judge for the Southern District of New York granted a motion to dismiss a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) class-action holding that a simple lack of a date on a model validation notice did not amount to a violation of the statute because it was not confusing to the least sophisticated consumer.

On October 17, the Clearing House Association, LLC (Association) and National Automated Clearing House Association (Nacha) joined forces to submit an amicus brief in support of a credit union held liable by a district court for a fraud perpetrated by an outside party on the sender of a wire. According to the amici, the district court wrongly held the credit union which banked the beneficiary of the wire responsible for the sender’s losses, even though it had no relationship with the sender. The case, Studco Building Systems US, LLC v. 1st Advantage Federal Credit Union, on appeal before the Fourth Circuit, challenges the district court ruling. The case deals with the liability scheme found in Article 4A of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). According to the amici, under the UCC the disappointed originator (the plaintiff) has recourse against the person paid (its own bank), but not against the bank that paid the beneficiary of the wire, with whom the sender has no relationship. The amici argue that “[t]he district court’s opinion muddles these rules, uncaps banks’ liability, and threatens the efficiency of all U.S. funds-transfer systems — not just the ACH networks — to the detriment of every economic participant, down to the consumer.”

Join Troutman Pepper Partners Chris Willis, Mary Zinsner, and Dave Gettings for an in-depth discussion about litigating elder financial exploitation cases. Elder abuse and financial exploitation of the elderly are increasing problems in our society, and financial institutions are right in the thick of it. Chris, Mary, and Dave discuss trends in elder fraud litigation, offering insights on the common themes and defenses that financial institutions have in these cases.