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First American Financial Corporation v. Edwards

Topic(s): Consumer Justice
Scope of Statutory Rights and Remedies

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Description:

The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) RESPA provides that real estate settlement agents cannot take kickbacks or receive other financial incentives to steer customers to other companies (especially title insurers) for settlement-related services. The statute also provides a consumer with the right to sue for statutory damages for violation of the Act, regardless of whether the violation resulted in the consumer’s paying a higher price for services. In this case, the financial industry argued that allowing a lawsuit in such circumstances is improper because the plaintiff lacks “standing” sufficient to create a “case or controversy” that federal courts may hear under Article III of the Constitution. On behalf of Public Citizen, AARP, the Center for Responsible Lending, the National Consumer Law Center, and the National Consumers League, we filed an amicus curiae brief arguing that adopting the financial industry’s views would gut several consumer protection laws and be contrary to longstanding precedents. The Court ultimately dismissed the writ of certiorari as improvidently granted, and thus did not decide the merits of the case, leaving the issue for another day.