October 18, 2011 — Amicus Brief

NCLC joined AARP, Center For Responsible Lending, and the National Consumers League in a amicus brief prepared primarily by Public Citizen, Inc., arguing that permitting Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act plaintiffs to seek statutory damages without proving their monetary loss does not undermine the values of the constitutional requirement of “standing” – that a plaintiff has a real stake in the suit. 

The Court dismissed its decision to grant certiorari in Edwards v. First American. Corp. as improvidently granted. In Edwards the Ninth Circuit held that a homebuyer had standing to assert a violation of RESPA’s ban on referral fees and kickbacks against a title insurer even though the homebuyer did not allege that she was overcharged as a result of the illegal conduct. The court based its decision on the text of RESPA and legislative history showing that Congress was concerned about more than just the cost of settlement services. Kickbacks could affect a service provider’s impartiality and willingness to give professional advice. In doing so the Ninth Circuit followed similar decisions from the Third and Sixth Circuits. No circuit courts have required economic injury to establish standing under this section of RESPA.