Tuesday, July 17, 2007

consumer - appraiser - liability

Morilus v.Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. - ED Pa. - June 20, 2007


The plaintiff sued an appraisal company under a number of consumer protection statutes, claiming that the company had conspired to unfairly and deceptively induce plaintiff to execute the loan, based on a falsely inflated appraisal price, with monthly payments that plaintiff could not afford. The court sustained defendant's motion to dismiss some of plaintiff's claims, including

- Truth in Lending Act, 15 USC 1601 et seq., because the defendant was not a creditor
- Home Ownership and Real Estate Protection Act, 15 USC 1639(a), because defendant was not a "creditor"
- Equal Credit Opportunity AQct 15 USC 1691a(e), because defendant was not involved in any credit decision
- Pennsylvania Fair Credit Extension Uniformity Act, 73 PS 2270 et seq., because defendant was not a "creditor"
- Pennsylvania Credit Services Act, 73 PS 2182, because defendant was not a "creditor" or credit services organization
- punitive damages - there was no allegation that D knew of a high risk of harm to P or that it acted deliberately and outrageously and with a conscious disregard of the risk.

The court also rejected the following claims but gave plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint with the necessary allegations, as follows

- Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, 12 USC 2601 et seq. - to sustain her claim that the defendant was part of a fraudulent scheme to improperly split settlement charges, plaintiff would have to allege that she made a "qualified written request" to the lender stating that her account was in error

- Pennsylvania Consumer Protection Law - Plaintiff did not make any allegations that met the requirements of common law fraud, including a material misreprentation of an existing fact, scienter, jusitifiable reliance on the misrepresentation, and damages, citing Booze v. Allstate Insurance, 750 A.2d 877, 880 (Pa. Super. 2000) [But see Commonwealth v. Percudani, 825 A.2d 743 (Pa. Cmwlth 2003), noting that amendments to the CPL statute negated this requirement. ]

- fraud claim - both state and federal pleading law requires pleading with more particularity that in the existing complaint.