4th Cir.: Trapp v. SunTrust Bank – Spokeo and ECOA

Summary:

SunTrust denied the application for credit to purchase a boat made by the Trapps due to issues with Mr. Trapp’s Social Security number being linked to a deceased person. The Trapps brought suit under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), 15 U.S.C.A. §§ 1691 to 1691f.

While a party may have an actionable claim if he “ suffers a concrete informational injury where he is denied access to information required to be disclosed by statute, and he suffers, by being denied access to that information, the type of harm Congress sought to prevent by requiring disclosure” Dreher v. Experian Info. Solutions, Inc., 856 F.3d 337, 343 (4th Cir. 2017), such injury must be real and not abstract. Since the Trapps were able to nonetheless buy the boat with cash, the Court of Appeals affirmed the district court holding that, pursuant to Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, 136 S. Ct. 1540, 1547 (2016), there was only a “allegation of a bare procedural violation of the ECOA in which they suffered no concrete injury.”

Commentary:

Perhaps if the Trapps had been able to show that the use of cash to purchase the boat following the denial of credit had prevented them from otherwise using that cash more profitably, i.e. an investment with a higher rate of return than the interest rate charged by SunTrust, there could have been a showing of a concrete injury. Perhaps if this wasn’t a case about how the Trapps wanted to finance a boat, that would have helped too.

 

For a copy of the opinion, please see:

Trapp v. SunTrust- Spokeo and ECOA

About

1. Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from Washington University, 1993. 2. Juris Doctor degree from George Washington University, 1996. Admissions to Practice of Law: North Carolina Bar, 1996. Federal District Courts for the Eastern and Middle Districts of North Carolina. Specialty Certification: North Carolina State Bar: Certified as a Specialist in Consumer Bankruptcy. Areas of Practice: Practice limited to consumer and business debtor bankruptcy law, 1998 to present. Memberships: National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA). North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers (NCATL). North Carolina Bar Association, Bankruptcy Section. Lectures prepared and presented: North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers seminar on bankruptcy; Topic: Counseling the Consumer Debtor Prior to Court - C.Y.A. Forms to Help 'Gird They Loins'; 2001. Middle District Bankruptcy Seminar; Topic: Preparing Chapter 13 Plans; 2002. NACBA National Convention; Topic: Efficient Office Practices; 2003. NACBA National Convention; Topic: Chapter 7 vs. Chapter 13 Debates; 2004. Middle District Bankruptcy Seminar; Topic: Chapter 7 & 13 Hot Issues; 2004. Positions held: NACBA National Convention; Convention Chair; 2008. NACBA National Convention; Panel Moderator: Topic: Basic Bankruptcy Issues; 2008. NACBA National Convention; Panel Moderator; Topic: Chapter 13-Disposable Income and Other Issues; 2007. NACBA National Convention; Panel Moderator; Topic: Representing Members of the Military and Their Families; 2007. NACBA, Member of National Board of Directors, 2006 to present. NCATL, Chair of the Bankruptcy Section, 2003 to 2007. NACBA, Chair of the North Carolina Section, 2003 to 2007. NC Bar Association, Bankruptcy Section, Bankruptcy Council Member, 2004 to present.

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