In two lawsuits filed in the last two weeks, the American Financial Services Association claims that DeKalb County, Ga., and Dayton, Ohio, exceeded their authority by adopting stiff anti-predator laws.
The Washington trade group, which represents mortgage lenders, also sued this spring to thwart the enforcement of an anti-predator measure in Philadelphia. That effort became moot after state overturned the measure in June.
The suit against the Dayton was filed in Montgomery County Court on July 30, according to City Attorney J. Rita McNeil.
I dont think this is about Dayton, Ms. McNeil said in a telephone interview. This is about something much broader and bigger. Its about the impact of our passing predatory-lending legislation that would open the floodgates and encourage other cities to do the same.
The suit has already had the effect of delaying the citys ordinance, which was originally set to go into effect Friday. Now it cannot do so until the suit is resolved. If the court does not make a summary judgment, for which either side could file until Jan. 4 the case will be tried in March.
Denis OToole, the chief lobbyist for Household International Inc., said that the Prospect Heights, Ill., company would prefer state or national predator laws to local ones, and he intends to get clarification on the matter from the Ohio General Assembly.
The Atlanta Constitution reported that the trade group filed the DeKalb suit on Thursday in the countys Superior Court.
According to a copy of the complaint obtained by American Banker, Tony G. Powers of the Atlanta firm of Rogers & Hardin LLP is representing the trade group in the DeKalb suit, which names the county and its director of finance, Michael J. Bell, as defendants.
County Attorney Charles Hicks defended the ordinance before Superior Court Judge Edward Wheeler on Thursday, and the judge is expected to rule on the case within two weeks, the Constitution reported.
The Georgia ordinance took effect on June 28, the day it was passed by the DeKalb County Commission. It was not immediately clear at press time whether the suit has interfered with enforcement.
Randy Lively, the president and chief executive officer of the trade group, said that the lawsuits were meant to prevent a destabilization of credit and a balkanization of mortgage lending.
Calls to DeKalb County officials for comment were not returned by press time. The Georgia General Assembly is on recess.