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Valerie Hletko Quoted in Bloomberg BNA Article, "U.S. Supreme Court, In 4-4 Split, Upholds Bar on ECOA Claims by Spousal Guarantors"

Valerie L. Hletko

Valerie Hletko was quoted in Chris Bruce's Bloomberg BNA article, "U.S. Supreme Court, In 4-4 Split, Uploads Bar on ECOA Claims by Spousal Guarantors," on March 22, 2016. 

The U.S. Supreme Court March 22 affirmed a 2014 federal appeals court ruling that said a loan guarantor is not an ‘‘applicant’’ for purposes of marital status discrimination under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) (Hawkins v. Comm. Bank of Raymore, U.S., No. 14-cv-00520, 3/22/16).

The one-sentence order upholds ‘‘by an equally divided Court’’ a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit that blocked ECOA discrimination claims by Valerie Hawkins and Janice Patterson against Community Bank of Raymore in Raymore, Mo. (152 BBD, 8/7/14).

Hawkins and Patterson, who signed personal guarantees for loans, argued they shouldn’t be held to those commitments. They said they were included in the credit process only because they were married to the other loan guarantors.

Still, Some Clarity. Valerie L. Hletko, a partner with Buckley Sandler in Washington, D.C., who represents institutions and individual clients in litigation, regulatory matters and enforcement actions, March 22 said the brief order, while providing some clarity, leaves other questions hanging.

‘‘There’s not a whole lot to say because there’s no opinion,’’ Hletko told Bloomberg BNA. ‘‘The ongoing circuit split is meaningful, but banks have a reasonable degree of assurance that they may obtain guaranties from spouses of married business owners. But it would have been nice to have more direction, especially on the deference issue, with respect to the rule’s overreach itself. That question is still out there.’’

Originally published in Bloomberg BNA; reprinted with permission.