Boseman v. Prestige Auto Sales, Inc.
MEMORANDUM OPINION OF THE COURT. Signed by Judge Curtis Collier on 7/25/2017. (DOCKET TEXT SUMMARY ONLY-ATTORNEYS MUST OPEN THE PDF AND READ THE ORDER.)(mg)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE
PRESTIGE AUTO SALES, INC.,
Case No. 3:16-CV-728
Before the Court is an unopposed motion for summary judgment filed by Plaintiff, Sheryl
Boseman. (Doc. 25.) Defendant Prestige Auto Sales, Inc. has failed to respond to Plaintiff’s
motion and failed to respond to the Court’s Order to show cause (Doc. 29) for Defendant’s
failure to respond to Plaintiff’s motion.1 For the following reasons, the Court will GRANT
Plaintiff’s motion (Doc. 25).
On September 4, 2015, Plaintiff entered into an agreement with Defendant to purchase a
Chevrolet Cobalt. Plaintiff could not afford to pay the whole purchase price for the vehicle, so
Defendant sold the car to Plaintiff on credit at 22% interest.2 The agreement called for Plaintiff
to repay the loan in forty-one payments. Defendant provided Plaintiff a disclosure statement in
accordance with the Truth in Lending Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1601 et seq. (“TILA”), and that
disclosure statement included a disclosure of the payments scheduled to repay Plaintiff’s loan.
Defendant was ordered to show cause no later than April 20, 2017. (Doc. 29.)
The purchase price for the vehicle was $5,995.
The schedule provided due dates for forty of Plaintiff’s payments, but did not provide a due date
for the final payment.3
Plaintiff filed this action on April 13, 2016 pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 1638(a)(6).
Plaintiff’s sole claim is that Defendant failed to disclose the due date for the final payment and
this failure to disclose violated the TILA.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Summary judgment is proper when “the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as
to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed. R. Civ. P.
56(a). The moving party bears the burden of demonstrating no genuine issue of material fact
exists. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986); Leary v. Daeschner, 349 F.3d 888,
897 (6th Cir. 2003). The Court should view the evidence, including all reasonable inferences, in
the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith
Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986); Nat’l Satellite Sports, Inc. v. Eliadis Inc., 253 F.3d 900,
907 (6th Cir. 2001).
To survive a motion for summary judgment, “the non-moving party must go beyond the
pleadings and come forward with specific facts to demonstrate that there is a genuine issue for
trial.” Chao v. Hall Holding Co., Inc., 285 F.3d 415, 424 (6th Cir. 2002). Indeed, a “[plaintiff]
is not entitled to a trial on the basis of mere allegations.” Smith v. City of Chattanooga, No.
1:08-cv-63, 2009 WL 3762961, at *2–3 (E.D. Tenn. Nov. 4, 2009) (explaining the court must
determine whether “the record contains sufficient facts and admissible evidence from which a
rational jury could reasonably find in favor of [the] plaintiff”).
The payment schedule included forty biweekly payments of $160 beginning September
18, 2015, as well as a “final payment” of $18.09. The “final payment” did not have a due date.
At summary judgment, the Court’s role is limited to determining whether the case
contains sufficient evidence from which a jury could reasonably find for the non-movant.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248–49 (1986). If the Court concludes a fairminded jury could not return a verdict in favor of the non-movant based on the record, the Court
should grant summary judgment. Id. at 251–52; Lansing Dairy, Inc. v. Espy, 39 F.3d 1339, 1347
(6th Cir. 1994).
A court “cannot grant summary judgment in favor of a movant simply because the
adverse party has not responded. The court is required, at a minimum, to examine the movant’s
motion for summary judgment to ensure that he has discharged [his initial] burden.” Sough v.
Mayville Cmty. Sch., 138 F.3d 612, 614 (6th Cir. 1998) (alteration in original) (quoting Carver v.
Bunch, 946 F.2d 451, 454 (6th Cir. 1991)). The court “must not overlook the possibility of
evidentiary misstatements presented by the moving party.” Guarino v. Brookfield Twp. Trs., 980
F.2d 399, 407 (6th Cir. 1992). Moreover, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure “require that the
party filing a motion for summary judgment ‘always bears the burden of demonstrating the
absence of a genuine issue as to a material fact.’” Sough, 138 F.3d at 614 (quoting Carver, 946
F.2d at 454). It is not necessary for the court to “sua sponte comb the record from the partisan
perspective of an advocate for the non-moving party.” Guarino, 980 F.2d at 410. Rather, the
court “may rely on the moving party’s unrebutted recitation of the evidence, or pertinent portions
thereof, in reaching a conclusion that certain evidence and inferences from evidence demonstrate
facts which are ‘uncontroverted.’” Id.
The TILA is a strict-liability statute that requires absolute compliance.4
Eldridge Auto Sales, Inc., 91 F.3d 797, 801 (6th Cir. 1996) (“[O]nce the court finds a violation,
no matter how technical, it has no discretion with respect to the imposition of liability.”) The
TILA requires “[f]or each consumer credit transaction . . . the creditor shall disclose each of the
following items: . . . due dates or period of payments scheduled to repay the total of payments.”
15 U.S.C. § 1638(a)(6). For purposes of this motion, Plaintiff claims that Defendant failed to
disclose the due date of the “final payment.” (Doc. 25.)
Plaintiff must initially show there is no genuine dispute as to any material facts. Fed. R.
Civ. P. 56(a). The Court finds there is no genuine dispute as to whether Defendant is a creditor
and Defendant entered into a credit sale with Plaintiff.5 Further, it is undisputed Plaintiff
purchased the vehicle at issue for her own personal use. (Doc. 25-1.) Accordingly, the court
finds the credit sale between Plaintiff and Defendant was a consumer6 credit transaction and
Defendant was responsible to provide Plaintiff with the required enumerated TILA disclosures.
To assist in interpreting the TILA, deference should be given to the Federal Reserve
Board’s (“FRB”) interpretations and commentary—which is known as Regulation Z—unless the
FRB’s interpretation is irrational. See Ford Motor Credit Co. v. Milhollin, 444 U.S. 555, 565–68
(1980); See also U.S. v. Petroff-line, 557 F.3d 285, 294 (6th Cir. 2009). The court does not find
any of the FRB’s interpretations provided by Plaintiff to be irrational.
In addition to Defendant’s failure to respond to Plaintiff’s motion for summary
judgment, these material facts are deemed admitted because Defendant failed to respond to
Plaintiff’s request for admissions. (See Doc. 24 [Order].)
“The adjective ‘consumer,’ used with reference to a credit transaction, characterizes the
transaction as one in which the party to whom credit is offered or extended is a natural person,
and the money, property, or services which are the subject of the transaction are primarily for
personal, family, or household purposes.” 15 U.S.C. § 1602(i).
The next issue the Court must address is whether Defendant failed to provide Plaintiff
with the required TILA disclosures. It is undisputed that the “final payment” appearing in the
payment schedule of the disclosure lacked a due date. (Doc. 25-1.) It is Congress’s intent for
TILA disclosures to be “clear and conspicuously in writing . . . .” 12 C.F.R. § 226.17. The
purpose of this requirement is to prevent the consumers from having to guess or assume a
disclosure’s particular meaning. See Wright v. Tower Loan of Mississippi, Inc., 679 F.2d 436,
445 (5th Cir. 1982); see also Pennino v. Morris Kirschman & Co., 526 F.2d 367, 372 (5th Cir.
1976). Whether a creditor’s disclosure is clear is a question of law, determined on an “ordinary
consumer” standard. In other words, what a given consumer knows or does not know is
immaterial when evaluating a creditor’s TILA disclosures. See Purtle, 91 F.3d at 800. Since the
“final payment” is an irregular payment—that is, a one-time payment not covered by the FRB’s
period of payments disclosure rule—that payment must have a disclosed due date to be
compliant with the TILA. See 12 C.F.R. § 226.18(g). The court finds it persuasive that the
FRB’s two published model forms instructing creditors on how to disclose a series of regular
payments and a single irregular payment both include a due date for the single irregular payment.
See 12 C.F.R. pt. 226 app. H, at H-11 and H-12. Disclosing the due date for the single irregular
payment prevents the consumer from having to guess or assume when the payment is due.
The court concludes an “ordinary consumer” could find a creditor’s disclosure unclear if
the irregular payment does not list a due date. Therefore, Defendant violated the TILA by failing
to properly disclose a due date for the $18.09 irregular “final payment.”
The Court concludes Plaintiff has met her burden by showing there is no genuine dispute
as to any material facts and she is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Plaintiff is entitled to
an award of $1,994.92 in statutory damages. See 15 U.S.C. § 1640(a)(2)(A)(i).7
For the foregoing reasons, the Court will GRANT Plaintiff’s motion for summary
judgment. (Doc. 25.)
An appropriate order will enter.
CURTIS L. COLLIER
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
“[A]ny creditor who fails to comply with any requirement imposed under [the TILA]
. . . with respect to any person is liable to such person in an amount equal to the sum of . . . twice
the amount of any finance charge in connection with the transaction[.]” 15 U.S.C.
§ 1640(a)(2)(A)(i). The finance charge assessed on Plaintiff’s agreement with Defendant is
$997.46. (Doc. 25-1.) Plaintiff is entitled to twice the amount of $997.46, which equals
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