Attorney General Bonta files brief in defense of local prosecutor’s office to enforce state consumer protection laws

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OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today filed an amicus brief to assist local prosecutors in enforcing state consumer protection laws against national banks. In People against Credit One, Credit One Bank filed a lawsuit in federal court to dismiss a lawsuit filed in California state court by the district attorneys of Riverside, San Diego, Los Angeles and Santa Clara. Prosecutors allege violations of California’s unfair competition law related to illegal debt collection practices. In today’s shorthand, Attorney General Bonta is asking the Ninth Circuit to uphold the district court’s decision in favor of the district attorneys. The district court dismissed Credit One’s federal challenge to the district attorneys’ case. The brief argues that local prosecutors have a well-established right to sue national banks in state courts to enforce state consumer protection laws so long as those laws are not anticipated by the National Bank Act.

“If you break the law in California, local prosecutors have the authority and responsibility to hold you accountable.” said Attorney General Bonta. “We’re not going to give banks a no-parole card just because of their charter status. Credit One is involved in illegal debt collection practices and they cannot hide behind a misinterpretation of federal law to avoid responsibility. At the California Department of Justice, we work tirelessly to hold companies accountable, and we are committed to ensuring our partners on the ground can do the same.”

In March 2021, district attorneys for Riverside, San Diego, Los Angeles and Santa Clara filed a lawsuit against Credit One alleging that the bank was involved in harassing debt collection practices illegal under the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act are. Credit One has challenged district attorneys’ right to sue a national bank in state courts for violating state consumer protection laws. The district court ruled in favor of the district attorneys, and Credit One subsequently appealed.

In today’s briefing, Attorney General Bonta argues that the Ninth Circuit Court should uphold the district court’s decision because local prosecutors have a well-established right to sue a national bank in state courts for violations of state law, so long as those laws do not pre-empt the National Bank Act or other federal laws governing national banks. The Attorney General also argues that this enforcement authority is empowered by the Supreme Court in Cuomo v Clearing House Associationis not limited to Attorneys General, but also includes District Attorneys and other local law enforcement agencies.

A copy of the briefing is available here.

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