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Blatt v. Capital One Auto Finance, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

February 17, 2017

WAYNE BLATT, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
CAPITAL ONE AUTO FINANCE, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM

          KEVIN H. SHARP, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the Court are cross motions for summary judgment. Defendant Capital One Auto Finance, Inc. (“COAF”) filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on Plaintiff Wayne Blatt's (“Blatt”) claims under the Electronic Fund Transfer Act. (Docket No. 30). Plaintiff Wayne Blatt (“Blatt”) filed a Response in Opposition and Cross-Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. (Docket No. 38). COAF then filed a Reply. (Docket No. 39). For the reasons stated below, the Court will grant COAF's Motion for Summary Judgment and will deny Blatt's Partial for Summary Judgment.

         BACKGROUND

         On or about March 18, 2014, Blatt purchased a vehicle from Ford Lincoln of Cookeville. (Docket No. 32 at 1). Blatt financed this vehicle through the execution of a Retail Installment Sale Contract (“RISC”). The RISC was then assigned to COAF. Id. After Blatt failed to make his first payment on time, he called COAF on May 6, 2014. During that May 6, 2014 phone call, Blatt (1) authorized COAF to make a one-time withdrawal from his checking account to cover his missed payment; and (2) requested that he be enrolled in DirectPay-COAF's monthly automatic payment system. Id. To complete Blatt's second request, he was transferred to the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system, where Blatt input his loan account number as well as the last four digits of his Social Security Number. Id. at 2. After Blatt did this, the following messaged played:

Please listen to the entire DirectPay Authorization message before giving your enrollment authorization. If you hang up, DirectPay will not be authorized for your account. For your loan number <LoanAcctID>, you authorize Capital One to electronically debit a payment of <Amt> from your <(checking/savings)> account with routing number <AbaNum> and account number <BankAcctID>. Payments will be monthly on the <date> of each month. The first payment will debit on or after <Date>. Your payments will continue until the total amount due is paid or you ask us to stop or change your enrollment. If you wish to change or cancel DirectPay, call us at 800-946-0332. Once you are enrolled in DirectPay, we will no longer send you a monthly statement. If we do not receive the payment for any reason, including insufficient funds, you are responsible for sending a payment and we may charge a returned payment fee. If you are delinquent, or become delinquent, DirectPay may not bring your account current, and collection calls, late fees and credit bureau impact may result.
To authorize the enrollment of your account in DirectPay, press 1. To hear this information again, press 2. If you wish to make changes or speak with a customer service agent, press 0. To cancel, press *.

Id.

         After hearing this message, Blatt pressed “1” on his phone. On May 7, 2014, COAF mailed Blatt a letter confirming the one-time debit from his checking account to make his missed payment. On May 8, 2014, COAF mailed Blatt a letter confirming his enrollment in DirectPay. Id. The May 8, 2014 letter contained the following information: the amount of the payments to COAF, the recurring schedule of the payments, the date on which the first withdrawal would take place, the date on which Blatt agreed to the terms via the IVR system, and information on how to cancel or change his DirectPay enrollment. (Docket No. 32, Ex. C).

         Blatt now claims that COAF violated the Electronic Funds Transfer Act (EFTA), 15 U.S.C. § 1693 et seq, in the course of enrolling Blatt in DirectPay. The EFTA governs proper authorization of electronic fund transfers. 15 U.S.C. § 1693. Blatt claims that COAF violated the EFTA in two specific ways: (1) COAF did not obtain his authorization to the recurring payments in writing, as the EFTA requires; and (2) the May 8, 2014 letter COAF mailed to Blatt was insufficient to meet the EFTA's requirement that COAF mail a copy of the authorization to him. (Docket No. 1 at 7-8).

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary judgment is proper if “there is no genuine issue as to any material fact [such that] the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). But “summary judgment will not lie if the . . . evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). In considering a motion for summary judgment, the court must construe the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). The movant therefore has the burden of establishing that there is no genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986); Barnhart v. Pickrel, Schaeffer & Ebeling Co., 12 F.3d 1382, 1388-89 (6th Cir.1993). But the non-moving party “may not rely merely on allegations or denials in its own pleading.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2). See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324; Searcy v. City of Dayton, 38 F.3d 282, 286 (6th Cir. 1994). The non-moving party must present “significant probative evidence” to show that there is more than “some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Moore v. Philip Morris Co., 8 F.3d 335, 339-40 (6th Cir.1993).

         The standard of review for cross-motions of summary judgment does not differ from the standard applied when a motion is filed by only one party to the litigation. Taft Broad. Co. v. U.S., 929 F.2d 240, 248 (6th Cir.1991).

The fact that both parties have moved for summary judgment does not mean that the court must grant judgment as a matter of law for one side or the other; summary judgment in favor of either party is not proper if disputes remain as to material facts . . . [.] Rather, the court must evaluate each party's motion on its own merits, taking care in each ...

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