Articles Posted in Consumer Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court in this class action finding that every class member suffered damage as a result of alleged misrepresentations on the part of Nissan North American, Inc. and entered judgment for Nissan pursuant to Mo. R. Civ. P. 84.14. Plaintiff, on behalf of a class of similarly situated plaintiffs, sued Nissan for violations of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act, Mo. Rev. Stat. 407.010 to 407.130, based on alleged misrepresentations concerning the dashboards in certain Nissan Infinity FX vehicles. After a jury trial, the trial court entered judgment requiring Nissan to pay $2,000 in damages to each class member and $1.9 million in attorney fees. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the statements at issue were not actionable “misrepresentations” under section 407.020.1. View "Hurst v. Nissan North America, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Consumer Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the circuit court dismissing Appellants’ petitions against Respondents for failure to state a claim for relief. The circuit court ruled that the petitions, which alleged, in part, the improper collection of post-judgment interest, failed to state a claim because nontort judgments automatically accrue post-judgment interest even when the judgments do not expressly award such interest. The Supreme Court held that the circuit court correctly ruled that nontort judgments automatically accrue post-judgment interest, but the petitions may have adequately stated a claim for relief against Respondents for other reasons. The court remanded the case to the circuit court to consider Appellants’ remaining claims following the dismissal of their claims related to post-judgment interest. View "Dennis v. Riezman Berger, P.C." on Justia Law

Posted in: Consumer Law, Contracts

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In 2013, Plaintiff purchased a new car from Defendant. In 2014, Plaintiff filed the underlying petition for damages, alleging that Defendant violated the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act by failing to pass title for her new vehicle. Thereafter, Defendant asked the trial court to enforce the arbitration agreement between the parties. The trial court overruled the motion to compel arbitration on the ground that the contract between the parties was void under Mo. Rev. Stat. 301.210. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the trial court, holding that even though the sale between Plaintiff and Defendant may be void under section 301.210, that question is for the arbitrator to determine, not the trial court. Remanded with instructions for the trial court to grant Defendant’s motion and compel arbitration. View "Ellis v. JF Enters., LLC" on Justia Law

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Issiah Andra, a Missouri resident, filed a petition against Texas-based Left Gate Property Holding, Inc. after Andra purchased on eBay a vehicle from Left Gate that did not meet Andra’s expectations. The circuit court dismissed the petition for lack of personal jurisdiction over Left Gate. Andra appealed, arguing that Left Gate had sufficient minimum contacts with Missouri to be subject to personal jurisdiction in Missouri in accordance with the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Left Gate’s conduct in Missouri fell within Missouri’s long-arm statute, and Left Gate had sufficient minimum contacts with Missouri to satisfy the due process clause. View "Andra v. Left Gate Prop. Holding, Inc." on Justia Law

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When two of Price Chopper’s employees saw Deborah Barkley head for the store’s exit without paying for certain items, they confiscated the items and detained her at the store’s security office on suspicion of shoplifting. Approximately forty-five minutes after Barkley was first detained, the police arrested her and escorted her from the store. Barkley was charged with shoplifting but was later acquitted of this charge. Barkley sued Price Chopper, alleging various torts arising out of her detention. At the close of the evidence, Barkley abandoned all of her claims except false imprisonment and battery. The jury found for Price Chopper on both counts. Barkley appealed, arguing that the merchant’s privilege extends to claims of battery, and the privilege ends when the merchant’s property is recovered. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that a merchant is privileged to detain a person in a reasonable manner and for a reasonable time if the merchant has probable cause to believe that person is shoplifting, and the merchant may continue the detention after the property is recovered to determine whether the person was actually shoplifting and to summon the police and instigate criminal proceedings. View "Barkley v. McKeever Enters., Inc." on Justia Law

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Property Owners filed a lawsuit against a Mortgage Company, claiming that, by preparing deeds of trust and promissory notes for the Property Owners, the Mortgage Company (1) violated Mo. Rev. Stat. 484.010.2 and 484.020 by engaging in the "law business"; (2) committed an unlawful practice in violation of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act; and (3) was unjustly enriched because it charged for services it did not perform or did not perform lawfully. The trial court granted summary judgment for the Mortgage Company. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because the Property Owners did not dispute that the Mortgage Company did not charge a separate fee or vary its customary charges for preparation of legal documents, there were no disputed material facts, entitling the Mortgage Company to summary judgment as a matter of law. View "Binkley v. Am. Equity Mortgage, Inc." on Justia Law

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Lillian Lewellen brought an action against Chad Franklin National Auto Sales North, LLC (National) and its owner, Chad Franklin, for fraudulent misrepresentation and unlawful merchandising practices under the Missouri Merchandising Practice Act. A jury awarded Lewellen actual damages of $25,000, assessed jointly and severally against both defendants. The jury also awarded Lewellen $1 million in punitive damages against Franklin and National on both counts. Pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat. 510.265, the circuit court reduced the punitive damages awards against Franklin and National to $500,000 and $539,050, respectively. Lewellen appealed her punitive damages award, claiming that her constitutional right to trial by jury was violated when the trial court reduced the punitive damages award on her fraudulent misrepresentation claim against Franklin. The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s judgment in all respects except for the portion applying section 510.265 to the punitive damages award assessed against Franklin for fraudulent misrepresentation, holding that the mandatory reduction of Lewellen’s punitive damages award against Franklin under section 510.265 violated Lewellen’s right to a trial by jury. View "Lewellen v. Franklin" on Justia Law

Posted in: Consumer Law, Contracts

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Appellant filed a claim against Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Inc. under the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MMPA), alleging that Wells Fargo engaged in bad faith negotiations of a loan modification and wrongfully foreclosed on a deed of trust. The trial court entered judgment for Wells Fargo, concluding that because Wells Fargo’s actions were not taken before or at time of the extension of credit in the original loan, and because Wells Fargo was not a party to the transaction when Appellant first obtained the loan, Wells Fargo’s actions were not “in connection with” the sale of the original loan. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) to the extent Appellant’s allegations related to the wrongful foreclosure, summary judgment was not appropriate pursuant to Conway v. CitiMortgage, Inc., also decided today; and (2) because Wells Fargo was not enforcing the terms of the original loan when it negotiated the loan modification, its actions were not “in connection with” the sale of the original loan and thus did not violate the MMPA. Remanded. View "Watson v. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Inc." on Justia Law

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Homeowners filed a claim against Fannie Mae and CitiMortgage (collectively, Defendants) under the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MMPA), alleging wrongful foreclosure of a deed of trust. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss on the basis that the alleged wrongful foreclosure of the deed of trust was not “in connection with” the mortgage loan. The trial court dismissed the complaint, concluding that the MMPA did not apply because Defendants were not parties to the original loan transaction and that the MMPA does not apply to post-sale activities that are unrelated to claims or representations made before or at the time of the transaction. At issue before the Supreme Court was whether Homeowners sufficiently pleaded that Defendants’ alleged wrongful foreclosure of the deed of trust was “in connection with” the loan so as to state a claim under the MMPA. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because the sale of a loan lasts as long as the agreed upon services are being performed, Homeowners’ allegations of fraud and deception must have occurred “in connection with” the “sale” of their loan. Remanded. View "Conway v. CitiMortgage, Inc." on Justia Law

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A class of Plaintiffs brought suit against Insured, a hotel proprietor, alleging that Insured violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The class and Insured subsequently reached a settlement. The class then filed a garnishment action against Insurer. Insurer sought a declaratory judgment that its policy with Insured did not provide coverage because the policy did not cover damages awarded related to the TCPA. The trial found (1) Insurer owed Insured a duty to defend in the class actions because the class's claims were covered under the policy; and (2) Insurer had a duty to indemnify Insured for the full settlement plus interest. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court correctly determined that Insurer wrongly refused to defend Insured under its policy coverage; (2) Insurer was not entitled to a reassessment of the reasonableness of the settlement; and (3) policy limits did not bar Insurer's indemnification of the settlement.View "Columbia Cas. Co. v. HIAR Holding, LLC" on Justia Law