Federal District Court Holds Ohio Post-Repossession Notice Requirements Not Preempted


On October 17, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio held that the post-repossession notice requirements in the Ohio Retail Installment Sales Act (RISA) and the Ohio Uniform Commercial Code (OUCC) were not preempted by the National Banking Act (NBA) and OCC regulations. White v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Case No. 1:12 CV 943, 2012 WL 4958516 (N.D. Ohio Oct. 17, 2012). A group of borrowers allege on behalf of a putative class that the lender violated provisions of RISA and the OUCC when it repossessed and sold borrowers’ cars after the borrowers defaulted on their auto loans. The lender filed a motion to dismiss the action, claiming that, because it is a national bank, the NBA and applicable OCC regulations preempt borrowers’ RISA and OUCC claims. Following precedent from the Ninth and Fourth Circuits, the Ohio court held that the state laws regarding repossession notice requirements fell within the savings provision of the NBA and thus were not expressly preempted. The court also held that the federal government had not occupied the field of debt collection, and that the Ohio laws at issue do not relate to the bank’s lending operations and therefore do not significantly interfere with its ability to operate as a bank. Accordingly, the court denied the lender’s motion to dismiss on preemption grounds.

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