Locke Lord's Consumer Finance Practice Group regularly advises many of the largest consumer financial services companies in the United States, including banks, mortgage companies, consumer lenders, loan servicers, credit card issuers, auto finance companies, and retail credit providers on legal issues across a wide range of matters.
The group is composed of knowledgeable and skilled partners and associates who are up to speed on the latest litigation trends and issues affecting the industry. We are litigators who handle "bet the company" cases in jurisdictions all over the United States. Our team understands that we must go to where our clients are and deploy national strategies for taking well-founded and consistent positions in different courts around the country.
Over 90 lawyers are members of the Firm's Consumer Finance Practice Group devoted to defending consumer lenders against class actions and individual actions brought pursuant to a variety of state and federal consumer protection statutes, including cases involving mortgage fraud, predatory lending and unfair and deceptive acts and practices statutes.
Our lawyers are well-versed in the laws and regulations that govern our clients, including the Uniform Commercial Code, the Bankruptcy Code, the Truth-In-Lending Act, the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and other consumer protection statutes. More recently, we have helped several clients navigate the uncertain waters of qui tam cases and government investigations.
- Representing several different types of consumer financial services companies in connection with various state and federal investigations, including an investigation by the newly formed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as well as qui tam litigation
- Currently handling several class and individual actions regarding servicers’ implementation of HAMP.
- National counsel on trade secret and noncompete issues for an internationally known financial services and mutual fund company. Obtained injunctions in federal and state courts nationwide against former brokers who leave, join competitors and misappropriate the Company’s proprietary trade secret customer data. Handled arbitrations before the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) seeking damages caused by the former employee and new employer’s misappropriation of trade secret client data. Cases pending in Massachusetts, Texas, California, Ohio, Maryland, New Jersey and Florida
- Act as national restrictive covenant counsel for several insurance and financial services clients; acting as lead counsel in litigation pending around the country
- Defended auto lender in nationwide class action regarding alleged late-fee “stacking” and other fee-related claims
- Representing multiple national bank in class actions over the legality of HELOC suspensions and reductions
- Co-lead counsel for Visa Inc. in a high stakes commercial breach of contract case between FIFA and MasterCard and Visa concerning exclusive sponsorship rights for the next decade at all FIFA-run events, including most notably the FIFA World Cup. Visa ultimately secured the sponsorship rights over MasterCard
- Representation of Visa International in In re: Payment Credit Card Merchant Interchange Fee and Merchant Discount Litigation (U.S. Dist. Ct. E.D.N.Y.) and In re: Currency Conversion Antitrust Litigation (U.S. Dist. Ct. S.D.N.Y.)
- Obtained summary judgment for national mortgage lender in a nationwide class action alleging violations of RESPA. Bradford v. WR Starkey Mortgage, 2008 WL 4501957 (N.D. Ga. Feb. 22 2008)
- Obtained summary judgment against national mortgage company in class action alleged deceptive trade practices claims. Hawthorne v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., 150 S.W.3d. 574 (Tex. App. -- Austin 2004, no writ)
- Obtained summary judgment for three national mortgage companies in putative class actions alleging discriminatory lending practices
- Resolved a putative class action in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maryland alleging that one of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders violated the automatic stay along with several other federal statutes, including the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, by failing to properly allocate pre-petition and post-petition payments and, as a result, serving invalid notices of default and seeking to lift the automatic stay to enforce invalid payment obligations
- Defended a national mortgage company in putative class actions in Texas, Mississippi, and Louisiana involving customers affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita
- Defended force-placed insurance provider against claims that it paid unlawful kickbacks in exchange for the referral of insurance business
- Obtained dismissals and/or defeated class certification motions for banking, consumer finance and retail clients in dozens of class actions alleging violations of the Truth in Lending Act and state consumer fraud laws. See, e.g., Personius v. HomeAmerican Credit, Inc. d/b/a “Upland Mortgage”, 234 F. Supp. 2d 817 (N.D. Ill. 2002)
- Represented a nationwide mortgage lending firm in a putative RESPA class action relating to primary and pool mortgage insurance. The district court granted a motion to dismiss based on lack of standing and injury and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed. Moore v. Radian Group, Inc., 233 F. Supp. 2d 819 (E.D. Tex. 2002), aff'd, 69 Fed. Appx. 659, No. 02-41462 (5th Cir. May 30, 2003)
- Obtained summary judgment in several putative class action cases alleging mortgage lenders engaged in unauthorized practice of law by charging document preparation fees in connection with mortgage loans, including the first reported decision in such a case in Illinois, Michalowski v. Flagstar Bank, FSB, No. 01 C 6095, 2002 WL 113905 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 25, 2002)
- Represented another mortgage company in two putative class actions asserted under Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act and Texas law relating to mortgage document preparation fees. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed both District Courts’ certification of nationwide class actions. O’Sullivan v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., 319 F.3d 732 (5th Cir. 2003)
- Obtained summary judgment in Fair Credit Reporting Act case involving allegations related to prescreened offers of credit. Murray v. GMAC Mortgage Corp., No. 05 C 1229, 2007 WL 2317194 (N.D. Ill. July 23, 2007)
- Settled nationwide class action in Fair Credit Reporting Act case involving allegations related to prescreened offers of credit
- Represented Peltier Enterprises, Inc., an automobile dealer, in a putative class action relating to automobile dealer financing. The trial court required the parties to conduct a trial on the claims of the two named parties. The jury returned a total defense verdict for the defendants. After the trial court certified a class action, the court of appeals reversed the certification. Peltier Enterprises, Inc. v. Jonray A. Hilton, 51 S.W.3d 616 (Tex. App. – Tyler 2000, pet. denied)
- Represented automobile dealers in a similar putative class action relating to automobile dealer financing. The trial court stayed the cases based on the Peltier decision. The trial court thereafter dismissed the lawsuit. The defendants settled the cases thereafter with the individual plaintiffs.
- Obtained summary judgment for national mortgage lender in case alleging that lender charged a full day’s interest on the day mortgage loans were paid off, and recovered our client’s attorneys’ fees pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 137
- Obtained dismissals for a title insurance company in several federal and state class actions asserting violations of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, Consumer Fraud Act, common-law fraud, breach of contract and unjust enrichment, one of which resulted in the opinion in Echevarria v. Chicago Title & Trust Co., 256 F.3d 623 (7th Cir. 2001)
- Currently represent mortgage companies in nationwide putative class actions alleging RESPA and Texas state law violations relating to alleged “mark-ups” and mortgage “up-charges”
- Defended several national marketing companies against class actions alleging violations of the federal Telephone Consumer Fraud Act
- Obtained dismissal of mortgage lender in case alleging that sellers and appraisers fraudulently represented the value of properties plaintiff invested in, mortgage brokers committed fraud by tendering the fraudulent appraisals to mortgage lenders, mortgage lenders were vicariously liable for the actions of the mortgage brokers and for failing to confirm the opinions of value offered by the appraisers, and mortgage servicers were vicariously liable for the alleged misconduct of the mortgage lenders
- Currently represent a national mortgage company in a putative class action on behalf of Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy debtors alleging the overcharge of fees and expenses in connection with the resolution of automatic stay proceedings
- Secured summary judgment for a furniture retailer in a class action alleging violations of the truth-in-lending and consumer fraud acts relating to the disclosure of credit application fees in consumer credit sales
- Secured settlement of case involving nationwide allegations that large golf equipment retailer’s credit card processing system had violated FACTA (Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act)
- Obtained summary judgment for a nationwide mortgage lending firm in a state court class action alleging nationwide classes relating to mortgage servicing practices
- Obtained dismissals for consumer finance companies in state and federal class actions alleging consumer fraud and TILA violations arising out of the sale of credit insurance policies
- Represented a credit card company in a putative class regarding late fees, resulting in a settlement for our client