Berkeley Law students and CAPS members Brenna Kearns (3L), Snehee Khandeshi (2L), and Tal Solovey (1L) submitted a public comment to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on the Fair Housing Act's Disparate Impact standard. In it, the students argued that the HUD must not allow housing providers, lenders, insurers and a host of other actors to evade liability for the discriminatory effects of their policies by hiding behind algorithmic models and declining to collect data.Click here for full post
Second-year Berkeley Law students and CAPS members Julia Butts, Samson Lim, and Daniel Twomey submitted a public comment on Regulation F (Debt Collection Practices) to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In it, the students proposed three modifications to the proposed rules to protect debtors from abuse. First, the rules need to be modified to protect consumers from phishing and smishing scams. Second, the rules should require individuals to consent before receiving electronic messaging from debt collectors. Third, the rules should take concrete steps to ensure that low English proficiency consumers are informed of their rights in a language-appropriate manner.Click here for full post
First-year Berkeley Law students and CAPS members Angela Moon, Ari Chivukula, and Marta Studnicka submitted a comment to the Federal Trade Commission on Competition and Consumer Protection. In it, the students argued that the U.S. must maintain the market it built by properly policing: (1) the type and sensitivity of data companies can collect and transfer; (2) how the data can be used; (3) how the data can be secured; and (4) how consumers are notified of data collection and use.
Public Comment for FTC on Consumer Privacy"]
First-year Berkeley Law students and CAPS members Vivek Banerjee and Dan Noel submitted a public comment on behalf of CAPS to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on the implementation of the 2017 “Payday, Vehicle Title, and Certain High-Cost Installment Loans” Rule (the "Final Rule"). The students provided four reasons to support implementation. First, the Final Rule fulfills the Bureau’s statutory mandate under the Dodd-Frank Act to “identify and prevent unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices.” Second, the Final Rule shifts the burden to lenders to assess a consumer’s ability to repay, in acknowledgment of the limited choices indebted consumers actually have. Third, the Final Rule only constrains products identified by the Bureau as unfair and abusive, leaving space for lenders to innovate new ways of meeting consumer needs. And fourth, the Final Rule sufficiently seeks to minimize market impact without compromising the Bureau’s core mission of consumer protection.
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First-year Berkeley Law students and CAPS members Ted Lee, Samson Lim, and Oscar Sarabia Roman have submitted a public comment on behalf of CAPS and in conjunction with the UC Berkeley Center for Consumer Law & Economic Justice. The FCC and NorthStar Alarm Systems, LLC sought clarification that the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (47 U.S.C. § 227) did not prohibit the use of soundboard technology (i.e., the use of "prerecorded message" by live telemarketers). The students argued that the TCPA prohibits the use of the technology because it falls squarely under the Act's ban on the use of "artificial or prerecorded voice." The comment can be found here.Click here for full post
CAPS members attend Ninth Circuit oral arguments in Manriquez v. DeVos
Second-year Berkeley Law student and CAPS member Hanne Jensen has submitted a public comment on behalf of the Consumer Advocacy and Protection Society (CAPS) cautioning the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation against changing their guidance for financial institutions offering small-dollar "payday" loans. Following the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency's rescission of its guidance, some banks have begun exploring offering high-interest, small-dollar loans to consumers. Considering issues involving enforcement, administrability, and the high risk of an under-regulated lending market, Jensen urges the FDIC to retain their current guidance to protect vulnerable borrowers. The public comment can be found online here: https://www.fdic.gov/regulations/laws/federal/2018/2018-small-dollar-lending-3064-za04-c-032.pdfClick here for full post
First-year Berkeley Law students and CAPS members Samson Lim and Matt Clarkston have submitted a public comment on behalf of the Consumer Advocacy and Protection Society (CAPS) opposing the U.S. Department of Education's proposal to rescind the 'gainful employment' rule. Under the current rule, career education programs that repeatedly leave students with unaffordable levels of debt relative to their earnings can lose access to federal Title IV funds (i.e., federal student loans, grants, and work-study). Based on a review of recent judicial decisions, academic research, and relevant data, Lim and Clarkston argue that the Department of Education’s proposal to eliminate the rule lacks evidence-based justification and rolls back hard-earned protections for thousands of students seeking to pursue higher education. The public comment can be found online here.Click here for full post
We have received the following call for papers appearing below. This one looks especially exciting for consumer law scholars: it's at an elite law school and has an impressive roster of organizers.
The Berkeley Center for Consumer Law and Economic Justice, its director Ted Mermin, and co-organizers Abbye Atkinson, Kathleen Engel, Rory Van Loo, and Lauren Willis are pleased to announce the inaugural Consumer Law Scholars Conference (CLSC), which will be held the afternoon and evening of February 21 and all day February 22, 2019, in Berkeley, CA.Click here for full post
Summary of General Meeting (9-5-18)
It was fantastic meeting/seeing everyone at the General Meeting today! For those who were unable to join us, we primarily discussed what CAPS does and what CAPS is hoping to do in the coming school year. Our aspirations for the this year include: engaging the law school community with captivating lunch events and guest speakers; creating a formal, administration-approved Consumer Law Certificate (to go on your transcript); and perhaps the most exciting aspiration of all, potentially creating Berkeley's newest legal publication, the Berkeley Journal of Consumer Law (BJCL)! Here is a teaser of what our destiny could hold:
Whether this logo remains but a mere sparkle in our eye or will one day instead emblazon the letterhead of the nation's newest consumer law journal, is in our hands—your hands.
CAPS recently submitted several public comments to the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on various consumer protection matters.
The FTC comments, one of which can we read here, were submitted in response to the FTC’s Hearings on Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century. CAPS argued that to adequately deter unfair and deceptive business practices, Congress should grant the FTC increased rulemaking and civil penalty authority.
The CFPB comment, which can be read here, argued in opposition to several recent proposals from current CFPB Acting Director Mick Mulvaney. For example, drawing on clinical experience at Berkeley’s Consumer Rights Workshop and East Bay Community Law Center’s Consumer Justice Clinic, CAPS argued that Mulvaney’s proposal to remove the Bureau’s publicly accessible Consumer Complaint Database would harm consumers and impede the direct legal services model.Click here for full post
The Spring 2018 issue of the Berkeley Law Transcript featured an article recently about the Center for Consumer Law and Economic Justice. The article features Ted Mermin, the Center’s Interim Director, and Elizabeth Cabraser, renowned litigator and founding donor for the new Center.
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The California Law Review has recently published an article about the East Bay Community Law Center’s Consumer Justice Clinic. The piece was authored by CAPS faculty adviser Ted Mermin, who helped create the the Consumer Justice Clinic. The article can be accessed here: http://www.californialawreview.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/8-Festschrift_Mermin.pdf.Click here for full post
The “Corporate Crime Reporter” recently featured an interview with CAPS faculty advisor Ted Mermin about Berkeley’s new Center for Consumer Law & Economic Justice. You can find the article here: https://www.corporatecrimereporter.com/news/200/ted-mermin-berkeley-center-consumer-law-economic-justice/.Click here for full post
Recent Berkeley Law graduate & former CAPS leader Nate Brown was quoted in a recent CNN article about law firms' use of mandatory arbitration clauses in employment contracts. Read the article here:Click here for full post
On Thursday April 19, 2018, CAPS & Berkeley's new "Center for Consumer Law and Economic Justice" co-hosted a discussion amongst leading privacy experts about California's upcoming ballot initiate, the "California Privacy Act of 2018." The California Privacy Act of 2018 is a statewide ballot initiative that seeks to provide Californians with greater control over their personal information. With the potential to drastically upend the business model of much of Silicon Valley, the initiative is likely to be one of the most contentious issues on the ballot this Fall.
The panel includes Mary Ross - President of Californians for Consumer Privacy; Professor Chris Hoofnagle; and Professor Lothar Determann. You can view the video of the event here: https://youtu.be/IIMN9NfKFcE?t=60Click here for full post
In celebration of National Consumer Protection Week and the launch of Berkeley's new Center for Consumer Law and Economic Justice, Berkeley Law hosted preeminent consumer advocate Ralph Nader for a discussion on consumer law and public service.
You can watch Ralph Nader's lecture here: https://youtu.be/OyVW9e9vC98?t=156Click here for full post
In honor of the beginning of National Consumer Protection Week, CAPS & the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology (BCLT) co-hosted FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn for a discussion on the Trump Administration's recent repeal of net neutrality. You can read more about the event here: https://www.law.berkeley.edu/article/fcc-commissioner-shares-far-from-neutral-views-on-net-neutrality/Click here for full post
https://www.law.berkeley.edu/article/major-gift-launches-new-berkeley-center-consumer-law-economic-justice/Click here for full post
Cristina Mathews '19 is writing an amicus brief in the California Supreme Court in Black Sky Capital v. Cobb, on behalf of Housing and Economic Rights Advocates,seeking to protect home equity loan borrowers from being sued (or hounded by debt collectors) after foreclosure for a “deficiency” if the home is sold for less than the amount of the mortgages.Click here for full post
Berkeley 2L Brady Williams Co-Authors Amicus Brief In Key Unconscionability Case Before California Supreme Court
Berkeley Law student Brady Williams and Professor Ted Mermin have submitted an Amicus Brief on behalf of leading consumer protections organizations in a key California Supreme Court unconscionability case. Joining the brief were the Center for Responsible Lending, Public Good Law Center, National Association of Consumer Advocates, and Public Citizen.
The case, De La Torre v. CashCall, is about whether the doctrine of unconscionability should apply to loans whose interest rates are not subject to a statutory interest rate cap.Click here for full post
Berkeley 2L Sophia Ton'Nu Co-Authors Ninth Circuit Amicus Brief in American Beverage Association v. San Francisco
In all of three weeks, Sophia Ton'Nu drafted an amicus brief on behalf of the American Heart Association and a dozen other public health and medical organizations in the Ninth Circuit in American Beverage Association v. San Francisco, arguing that the First Amendment does not preclude governments from requiring scientifically accurate disclosures and warnings on advertisements for potentially harmful products.Click here for full post
California Senate Bill 298 (2017), the brainchild of Consumer Justice Clinic Director Sharon Djemal, would have reformed California's bank levy process for low-income debtors. CAPS members were involved in drafting/advocating for the bill, as well as creating a supporting website for the bill (www.casb298.com). Although the bill did not pass during the 2017 legislative session, the bill took a necessary first step in prompting a discussion of the need for California to reform its bank levy process.Click here for full post
Daniel Contreras drafted an amicus brief on behalf of the Public Good Law Center in the D.C. Circuit in Soundboard Ass’n v. FTC, arguing that the use of advanced digital technology to deceive consumers into believing they are talking to a human being is a prohibited form of “robocalling,” and that the First Amendment does not protect such manufactured speech.Click here for full post
In just two weeks, MJ drafted, revised, and filed an amicus brief in the Northern District of California on behalf of the Public Good Law Center and several other consumer protection organizations in support of the Federal Trade Commission’s case against DIRECTV for allegedly misleading customers by hiding the increased cost of the second half of a two-year contract and the actual cost of “free” premium service.Click here for full post
Berkeley 3L Robin Wetherill Co-Authors Amicus Brief Submitted to US Supreme Court in Key Debt Collection Case
Robin filed an amicus brief in the United States Supreme Court in Henson v. Santander, on behalf of the East Bay Community Law Center and law clinics at Notre Dame and Yale, arguing that the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act covers banks that are acting as debt buyers. She is also writing an amicus brief in the California Supreme Court, on behalf of EBCLC and a raft of other legal services providers around California, arguing that California law requires debt collectors to make their witnesses available for trial rather than having them appear only through affidavits. Both cases involve crucial tools used by legal services clinics on behalf of low-income consumers to hold abusive debt collectors accountable.Click here for full post