Down but Not Out: Second Circuit Breathes New Life Into the Use of TCPA Consent Clauses

Recently, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the district court’s finding in Reyes v. Lincoln Automotive Financial Services that a customer could not revoke prior express consent for purposes of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) if that consent was provided as consideration in a binding contract. In a ruling that departs from two other circuit decisions, Gager v. Dell Fin. Servs., LLC, 727 F.3d 265 (3d Cir. 2013) and Osorio v. State Farm Bank F.S.B., 746 F.3d 1242 (11th Cir. 2014), the Second Circuit held that bargained-for written consent cannot be unilaterally withdrawn by a consumer.

Read the full alert.

Developers Advocating for Open-Container Ordinances May Pose Issues for Retail Store Tenants

Retail developers continue to experiment with new concept designs for creating a shopping environment that will bring consumers back to brick and mortar. Along this pursuit to deliver a more attractive retail experience, developers of open-air shopping centers have started lobbying for relaxed open-container ordinances that would enable patrons to explore their retail districts with an alcoholic drink in tow.  Continue Reading

The End of LIBOR

Recently, it was reported that the UK Financial Conduct Authority will discontinue the London interbank offered rate (“LIBOR”), at the end of 2021. LIBOR is an interest rate index used in calculating floating or adjustable rates on trillions of dollars in loans, bonds, derivatives and other financial contracts. What happens under derivatives transaction documents when LIBOR is discontinued?

Read the full alert.

Consumer Protection in Retail: Weekly Roundup

This past week, several consumer actions made headlines that affect the retail industry.

First Circuit Dismisses Deceptive Advertising Claims against Two Large Retailers

The First Circuit Court of Appeals has held that consumers who brought nearly identical deceptive pricing cases against two large retailers failed to prove that they had been injured. One suit alleged that one company falsely advertised “compare at” prices on sales tags; the other suit alleged that the other company deceptively set lower prices for its exclusive and private-label products and advertised them as discounted. In both cases, the plaintiffs alleged that the mere purchase of the item itself constituted injury. The First Circuit rejected this argument, observing that the consumers (1) had not alleged that the items were poorly made, (2) had received the benefits of their bargains, and (3) that a false sense of a product’s value does not constitute injury.   Continue Reading

New Jersey Shopper Privacy Bill Signed into Law

As reported on Hunton’s Privacy and Information Security Law blog, on July 21, 2017, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed a bill that places new restrictions on the collection and use of personal information by retail establishments for certain purposes. The statute, which is called the Personal Information and Privacy Protection Act, permits retail establishments in New Jersey to scan a person’s driver’s license or other state-issued identification card only for the following eight purposes: Continue Reading

San Francisco Bans Employers From Asking Job Applicants About Salary History, 26 States Considering Similar Legislation

San Francisco is the latest jurisdiction to pass a law that prohibits employers from inquiring about prior salary history during hiring. New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and New Orleans already have similar laws, and in a concerning trend for employers, 26 states are currently considering such legislation.

The San Francisco city ordinance went into effect on July 1, 2017, and restricts employers from (1) considering an applicant’s salary history in determining whether to make an offer of employment or the amount of salary to offer; (2) inquiring about salary history; (3) retaliating against an applicant that declines to provide salary history; and (4) releasing a current or former employee’s salary history to a prospective employer without written authorization. Notably, the restrictions in the San Francisco ordinance, like similar laws in New York City and New Orleans, prohibit an employer from conducting a search of publicly available records to obtain salary history information.

Continue Reading

An Unwelcome Delivery: Excessive S&H Fee Claims in Consumer Class Actions

With the National Retail Foundation estimating 8 to 12 percent growth in U.S. e-commerce in 2017, retailers across the country are vying to compete for a piece of the $400B+ pie. Crucial to their efforts is that retailers offer a seamless online and in-home customer experience, which includes maximizing shipping and returns efficiencies. But equally as important is that retailers remain compliant with FTC regulations and state unfair competition and business practices laws, in order to minimize their exposure to an ever-expanding putative class of the 80 percent of Americans who place online orders each year.

In that vein, we have previously reported and advised on the rise in ADA and TCCWNA claims in 2015 and 2016. Now, over the past few months, a new trend has emerged that has ramifications for virtually every participant in the online retail space: a rise in the number of class action claims challenging allegedly excessive shipping & handling (“S&H”) fees. Regardless whether an online retailer offers flat or incremental S&H fees, standard and expedited S&H options or free shipping with returns-only S&H fees, few are immune from claims that the fees charged do not align perfectly with retailers’ underlying shipping costs.

Continue Reading

The CFPB’s Arbitration Rule: A Summary of the Rule, its Requirements, Potential Legal Challenges, and What Companies Should Do

On July 10, 2017, in a 775-page release, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) issued its long-awaited final arbitration rule (“Arbitration Rule”) pertaining to consumer finance contracts. The Arbitration Rule, which until now was in the comment stage with its final issuance in question, largely mirrors the proposed rule from May 2016, with a few modifications. The Arbitration Rule is important for three reasons: (1) it prohibits consumer finance companies from relying on class action waivers to block class action lawsuits; (2) it prohibits the inclusion of class action lawsuit waiver provisions in contracts pertaining to a broad swath of consumer products and services, or “covered products and services”; and (3) it requires covered providers to not only alter their form agreements, but to submit arbitration-related court and arbitration filings to the CFPB for watchdog purposes.

Read the full client alert.

Fear of the Unknown: Insurance Coverage for Recalls Where the Cause of Loss is Unknown

Commercial general liability policies typically provide coverage to insureds for losses resulting from property damage caused by an “occurrence,” usually defined in the policy as “an accident, including continuous or repeated exposure to substantially the same harmful conditions.” Specific product recall insurance policies and contamination policies also typically require that the insured’s loss be caused by accidental or unintentional contamination or impairment. In the context of product recalls, however, the exact cause of damage or contamination may be unknown. This creates uncertainty, and in turn, a coverage dispute over whether the cause of damage was indeed accidental, and thus a covered “occurrence” or “event” under the policy. Continue Reading

LexBlog