By Nicolas G. Keller
On September 12, 2018, Judge Loretta Preska of the District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed the New York State Attorney General’s (“NYAG”) suit against RD Legal Funding, LLC, and related entities (collectively, “RD Entities”) for allegedly defrauding individuals awaiting payouts from two separate funds—the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2011 (“VCF”) and the fund arising out of the NFL Concussion Litigation Settlement Agreement (“NFL Fund”). The Court’s ruling demonstrates the potentially far-reaching implications of the ongoing debate over the constitutionality of the CFPB’s structure in terms of not only the CFPB’s enforcement actions but also those of state actors.
The lawsuit, commenced jointly by the NYAG and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) in February 2017, alleges that the defendants’ transactions with individuals that the defendants characterized as “purchases” or “assignments” of VCF or NFL Fund payouts are substantively high-interest loans. The CFPB and the NYAG assert that the alleged loans are usurious and violate provisions of the Consumer Financial Protection Act (“CFPA”)—also known as Title X of the Dodd-Frank Act—and various New York state fraud and usury laws.
Nearly three months ago, on June 21, the Court dismissed the CFPB from the suit. The gist of the Court’s holding, which we wrote more about here, was that the CFPB’s structure as an independent agency headed by a single director who can be removed by the President only for cause violates separation of powers. And the Court ruled that the remedy for this constitutional infirmity is to strike the CFPA in its entirety, thereby leaving the CFPB without the authority to bring suit. The Court also noted that: