In Technology Training Associates, Inc. v. Buccaneers Limited Partnership, No. 17-11710 (October 26, 2017), the Eleventh Circuit axed an approved class action settlement due to plaintiffs’ counsel’s apparent “desire to grab attorney’s fees” at the expense of “the best possible settlement for the class.”  This case is a strong reminder that when defendants agree to a class action settlement they must take special care in ensure the settlement avoids even the appearance of being a “sweet heart” deal.

Continue Reading 11th Circuit axes class action settlement; Holds objector should have been allowed to intervene

Since 2011, a Subcommittee of the Federal Rules Advisory Committee has been mulling changes to Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. On April 14, 2016, the Advisory Committee forwarded proposed changes to the Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure, recommending that they be published for public comment. On August 12, the Standing Committee published a draft. Any approved changes will be made effective December 1, 2018.

The most significant changes involve measures to deter “bad faith” objectors. Under the new Rule 23(e)(5)(B), the Court must approve any side payment to an objector or objector’s counsel associated with withdrawing an objection or abandoning an appeal from a judgment approving a settlement.

Continue Reading Federal Rules Advisory Committee Proposes Amendments to Rule Governing Class Actions in Federal Court

Balch recently authored an article for Law 360 regarding the conundrum the Telephone Consumer Protection Act poses for electric utilities. While their article does not involve the financial industry, it does shed insight on the many problems created by the TCPA. For example, electric utilities are often required by state law to call customers before

The Alabama legislature recently adopted legislation to prevent class actions in federal court under the Alabama Deceptive Trade Practice Act (“ADTPA”). As reported here last summer, the Eleventh Circuit held in Lisk v. Lumber One Wood Preserving LLC, 792 F.3d 1331 (11th Cir. 2015) that the ADTPA’s prohibition on class actions does not apply in federal court. Thus, a private plaintiff could bring a class action under the ADTPA by suing in federal court. Not surprisingly, several plaintiff counsel began bringing these previously unavailable class actions following the Lisk decision.

Continue Reading The Alabama Legislature Solves Problem Created by the Eleventh Circuit

Last week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) issued a proposed rule which would prohibit mandatory arbitration provisions in millions of banking contracts, including contracts with consumers for credit cards and bank accounts. While financial institutions would still be allowed to offer arbitration as an option to customers individually, they would no longer be able to require it be done individually for claims brought as class actions. The intended, and drastic, result of the rule is that consumers would be free to join together in class action suits against their financial institutions for grievances which they had previously only been able to negotiate individually.

Continue Reading New Proposed Rule from the CFPB Paves Way for Massive Increase in Class Actions Suits Against Financial Institutions

A class action filed last week in the Northern District of Georgia disputes the ability of a lender to charge post-payment interest for certain home mortgage loans when the lender has not provided a very specific disclosure form. In Felix v. SunTrust Mortgage, Inc., No. 16-66, Sarah Felix alleges the she took out an FHA-insured loan in in 2009. When she sold her home in 2015, she requested a payoff statement from the lender. According to Ms. Felix, the lender sent the payoff statement on April 6 and included interest for the entire month of April in the total payoff amount. Though Ms. Felix paid off the loan on April 8, she alleges that she was still charged interest for the entire month of April.

Continue Reading New class action complaint alleges that post-payment interest charges for certain home mortgages are invalid because of insufficient disclosures under 24 C.F.R. § 203.558