Consumer Protections

AFJ Action Campaign is tracking the votes of every senator up for reelection in 2020 on Trump’s worst of the worst judges. Each senator who voted to confirm these judges owns the decisions—these decisions are harming people every day. See how your senator voted for some of the worst of the worst judges here.

In Federal Trade Commission v. Abbvie, Third Circuit judges David Porter and Peter Phipps reversed a district court decision that ordered AbbVie and Besins Healthcare Inc. to pay $448 million for allegedly filing sham patent lawsuits to stifle competition. While the decision acknowledged that the pharmaceutical companies had filed an “objectively baseless” lawsuit to blunt competition, it held that the Federal Trade Commission Act does not give courts the power to order disgorgement, which would enable the Federal Trade Commission to reclaim profits from companies that benefited from unfair competition.

In Consumer Financial Protection Bureau v. The National Collegiate Master Student Trust, et al., Delaware district court judge Maryellen Noreika ruled in favor of a coalition of financial firms and rejected an agreement that had been made by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with 15 members of the National Collegiate Student Loan Trusts. The settlement would’ve resulted in student loan relief for “hundreds of thousands” of borrowers.

In Muransky v. Godiva, Eleventh Circuit judges Britt Grant, Kevin Newson, Elizabeth Branch,  Robert Luck, and Barbara Lagoa ruled against a shopper who brought a lawsuit against Godiva Chocolates for including more than five digits of his credit card number on his receipt in direct violation of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA). Congress passed FACTA to protect consumers by reducing the risk of identity theft. According to the majority decision, however, Muransky did not prove that he had suffered any harm. As the dissent pointed out, the Supreme Court has held that “[n]ot all statutory violations result in a concrete injury.” Refusing to recognize Muransky’s right to bring a lawsuit allows courts to “ignore the judgment of Congress” when determining what constitutes injury to a consumer.

In Dalton v. Teva North America, Seventh Circuit Judge Barrett ruled against a woman who was forced to have a hysterectomy in order to remove a piece of her Intrauterine Device (IUD) that had broken off and become lodged in her uterus. In addition to ending menstruation, women who undergo hysterectomies are no longer able to become pregnant. As a result of Barrett’s ruling, Dalton was denied justice by the courts.

In FTC v. Credit Bureau Center, Seventh Circuit judges Amy Coney Barrett, Michael Brennan, Michael Scudder, and Amy St. Eve refused to reconsider a decision prohibiting the FTC from seeking restitution for victims of consumer fraud. To reach the result, the Seventh Circuit overturned its own precedent and ignored opposite rulings from eight other circuits.

In Casillas v. Madison Ave. Associates Inc., Barrett wrote a decision denying consumers the ability to enforce their rights under federal law against abusive debt collection practices.

In Cigar Association of America v. FDA, D.C. Circuit judge Gregory Katsas authored an opinion stating that the FDA improperly imposed a rule requiring cigar companies to label health risks on the packaging because it did not consider how warnings would affect the industry.

In Mey v. DirectTV, Fourth Circuit judge Allison Rushing compelled arbitration of Diana Mey’s claim against DIRECTV for making unwanted telemarketing calls, in violation of federal consumer protection law, based on the fact that Mey had signed an arbitration agreement eight years earlier with AT&T when she bought a cell phone. AT&T bought DIRECTV three years after Mey had signed the contract, and Rushing held that was enough to compel arbitration. Judge Pamela Harris, in dissent, argued that no reasonable person buying cellphone services from AT&T, and entering into the accompanying arbitration agreement, “would have reason to believe she was signing away her right to sue any and all corporate entities that might later come under the same corporate umbrella.” Harris emphasized Mey never was a DIRECTV customer and had never signed a contract with DIRECTV containing an arbitration clause.

In Keathley v. Grange Insurance Company of Michigan, Sixth Circuit judge Amul Thapar, in dissent, would have dismissed without trial Tamika Keathley’s claim against her insurance company after it refused to cover major water damage to her house. The company claimed that Keathley had failed to give “prompt notice” of the damage as her policy required, even though she had immediately called the agent who had sold her the plan and he had told her that she had six months to file a claim.

In Revitch v. DirecTV, LLC, Judge Mark Bennett dissented from a Ninth Circuit decision that applying a customer’s arbitration agreement with AT&T to his dispute with DirecTV would produce “absurd results.” Bennett would have forced Jeremy Revitch to go through a lengthy arbitration process to enforce federal law and stop DirecTV from making unauthorized robocalls to his cell phone, simply because Revitch signed an arbitration agreement with AT&T years before the wireless service provider acquired DirecTV. The majority held that Revitch did not consent “to arbitrate any dispute with any corporate entity that happens to be acquired by AT&T Inc.” when he signed his cell phone contract.

In Chronis v. U.S., Seventh Circuit judge Amy Coney Barrett ruled against a woman who experienced bruising and pain as a result of a routine pap smear and sought to recover $332 in expenses incurred because of the injury. Despite making a claim for “restitution” and including over 60 pages of documents, which included that the doctor had committed malpractice, Barrett ruled — over a dissent from a George H.W. Bush appointee — that the woman’s efforts were somehow insufficient to put the defendant on notice of her claim.


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