15 May 2017

A Quick SCOTUS Summary

It was a bad day for consumers and ex-spouses at the Supreme Court today.

* Filing a claim for zombie debt is a bankruptcy is not actionable as an unfair debt collection practice. Midland Funding, LLC v. Johnson. Justices Sotomayor, Ginburg and Kagan dissented from the 5-3 decision. The ruling hinges on the fact that the statute of limitations is an affirmative defense rather than part of the prima facie case to enforce a debt.

* An arbitration agreement with a nursing home entered into by a POA agent binds the principal and the principal's estate with respect to a wrongful death case, even though state law didn't authorize the agent to enter into arbitration agreements. Kindred Nursing Centers Limited Partnership v. Clark. Justice Thomas is the sole dissent futilely arguing as he has in many dissenting opinions that the Federal Arbitration Act does not apply to the states.

* A military spouse's QDRO benefits for a military pension can be reduced when some of the pension is converted to a disability benefit after the decree enters. Howell v. Howell. The opinion is unanimous, although Justice Thomas concurs.

Of course, Justice Gorsuch, did not participate in any of these cases which were granted, briefed and argued before he was appointed. He probably won't regularly appear as a participant in cases upon which opinions are rendered by the Supreme Court until October.

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