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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

Fourth Circuit Holds State Debt Collection Law Not Preempted by National Banking Act

Auto Finance Debt Collection

Consumer Finance

On April 5, the Fourth Circuit held that the National Bank Act (NBA) did not preempt the Maryland Credit Grantor Closed End Credit Provisions (CLEC). Epps v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, No. 10-2444, 2012 WL 1134065 (4th Cir. Apr. 5, 2012). In Epps, the plaintiff purchased a car through a retail sales installment contract subject to the CLEC. The contract was later assigned to Chase which repossessed the vehicle after the plaintiff defaulted. The plaintiff brought a putative class action alleging in part that Chase’s notices regarding the sale of the vehicle failed to comply with the CLEC. Relying on OCC regulations implementing the NBA, 12 C.F.R. § 7.4008(d)-(e), the Fourth Circuit reversed the District Court for the District of Maryland and held that the CLEC was not preempted. The court explained that because the CLEC provisions at issue related exclusively to repossession and not to the extension of credit, they were not preempted by the NBA and excluded from preemption by the OCC’s regulations. The court further found that the notices required under CLEC, which only related to debt collection upon default under an existing loan, were not disclosures within the meaning of the NBA and OCC regulations.

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