The United States District Court for the District of Maryland recently dismissed an action under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (“RESPA”) because plaintiffs were not injured and because the statute of limitations had run. See Baehr v. Creig Northrop Team, P.C., 2018 WL 6434502 (D. Md. Dec. 7, 2018). Plaintiffs purchased their home in July 2008. Unbeknownst to them, the real estate agents they used had a marketing and services agreement (“MSA”) with a title agency (“Lakeview”) that designated Lakeview as their “exclusive preferred settlement and title company” in exchange for payments of $6,000 per month. Although plaintiffs believed they could choose any title company they wanted, they deferred to the real estate agents’ choice of Lakeview. In 2013, plaintiffs brought this putative class action, arguing that the MSA was a sham arrangement used to disguise illegal kickbacks between the real estate agents and Lakeview in violation of RESPA. 12 U.S.C. § 2607(a). After discovery, defendants moved for summary judgment.
The Court granted the motion and dismissed the case. First, it found that plaintiffs did not have standing to bring this claim because they were not injured. “[T]here is no genuine dispute of material fact that the Plaintiffs were not in any way overcharged for services due to the alleged kickback scheme.” Among other things, plaintiffs had conceded that the fees they paid were reasonable and they were satisfied with the services Lakeview rendered. Second, the Court found that the claim was barred by RESPA’s one-year statute of limitations. Although Plaintiffs argued that the period should be tolled because the MSA concealed the kickback scheme, the Court rejected this claim because plaintiffs “did not at all inquire” about the relationship between the entities and used the Lakeview “without objection or further inquiry.” Accordingly, limitations period was not tolled and the Court dismissed the action.