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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

District court denies dismissal and stay of CFPB action

Courts CFPB U.S. Supreme Court Seila Law FDCPA FCRA Enforcement Single-Director Structure CFPA Debt Collection

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On November 30, the U.S. District Court of the District of Maryland denied a motion to dismiss an action brought by the CFPB against a debt collection entity, its subsidiaries, and their owner (collectively, “defendants”), rejecting the defendants’ argument that the Bureau lacked standing to bring the action. As previously covered by InfoBytes, in September 2019, the Bureau alleged the defendants violated the FCRA, FDCPA, and the CFPA by, among other things, failing to (i) establish or implement reasonable written policies and procedures to ensure accurate reporting to consumer-reporting agencies; (ii) incorporate appropriate guidelines for the handling of indirect disputes in its policies and procedures; (iii) conduct reasonable investigations and review relevant information when handling indirect disputes; and (iv) furnish information about accounts after receiving identity theft reports about such accounts without conducting an investigation into the accuracy of the information. The defendants moved to dismiss the action arguing, among other things, that (i) the Bureau lacks standing to bring the action; and (ii) Director Kraninger’s ratification of the litigation was invalid. In the alternative, the defendants moved to stay the lawsuit until the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in Collins v. Mnuchin (covered by InfoBytes here).

The court denied the motion to stay, concluding that the issues pending before the Supreme Court in Mnuchin may not necessarily apply to the Bureau, as they are different agencies and further, there is no issue of ratification in Mnuchin. Thus, given the “uncertainty surrounding the effect a decision in Collins v. Mnuchin will have on the present case,” the court denied the motion to stay. The court also denied the motion to dismiss, concluding, among other things, that the Supreme Court’s finding in Seila Law LLC v. CFPB (covered by a Buckley Special Alert) that the Bureau had a constitutional defect in its leadership structure under Article II does not diminish the agency’s Article III standing. Moreover, the court concluded that the decision in Seila Law does not mean that the Bureau “lacked authority during the time in which it was led by an improperly removable Director,” and therefore the Bureau had the authority to initiate the September 2019 lawsuit against the defendants. Further, the court held that the July 2020 ratification of the enforcement action was proper.

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