The Cleveland Plain Dealer had an article this past weekend about a lawsuit filed by a 41-year-old teacher's aide against First American Financial Corp., which alleges her $455.53 title insurance purchase in 2006 resulted from an illegal kickback scheme, which has evolved into a far-reaching consumer-rights dispute that the U.S. Supreme Court will be hearing on Nov. 28.
In 2006, Denise Edwards’ title company had agreed to steer almost all its title insurance business to First American Financial Corp. in exchange for a $2 million payment years before that bought a minority share in the agency. First American contends plaintiff has no legal standing to sue it for violating the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) of 1974, in that the insurance steering didn't hurt Edwards because all title insurance policies cost the same amount of money in Ohio when she bought her three-bedroom house.
Legal experts, the article says, say a decision against that plaintiff could weaken a broad range of consumer protection statutes, curtail class-action suits, and have implications for everything from copyright to credit reporting law, where financial harm to the aggrieved can be hard to prove.
Briefs supporting First American argue that allowing lawsuits by people who haven't suffered damages encourages potentially bankrupting class-action cases (i.e. Here). The Federal government, consumer groups and attorneys general from 11 states have filed legal briefs that take Edwards' side, saying that inside dealing of the sort Edwards experienced damages consumers and that lawsuits like hers are needed to ensure that companies comply with consumer protection laws.
ScotusBlog posted a review of the case ( Here) last Friday, and has additional information and filings (Here)