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Freeman v. Quicken Loans, Inc.

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: May 25, 2012
Case #: 10-1042
Scalia, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/10-1042.pdf

Property Law: A violation of 12 U.S.C. ยง 2607(b) of RESPA only occurs when unearned fees for settlement services are split among multiple parties.

Three couples ("petitioners") filed actions against respondent, alleging violations of 12 U.S.C. § 2607(b) of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act ("RESPA"). Section 2607(b) prohibits splitting or portioning fees for real estate settlement services with persons who did not provide any services. Petitioners allege respondent charged them for services that were not provided. Petitioners did not allege that any fees were split or portioned. Respondents removed to federal court and asked for summary judgment based on the ground that there was no violation of § 2607(b) because no fees were split, even if the money was unearned. The District Court agreed and granted summary judgment to respondent. The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed.

The Supreme Court affirmed and held that to show a violation of § 2607(b) a plaintiff must prove that fees for settlement services were split between two or more parties. Petitioners argued that there was a violation because they were charged unearned fees, of which respondent took an entire split or a 100% portion of said unearned fee. The Supreme Court responded that to allow such an interpretation, where splitting fees and not splitting fees amounted to the same thing, would be stretching the scope of the statute beyond its obvious meaning.