Quicken Loans Inc. v. Brown (U.S. Supreme Court)
A borrower who defaulted on her $145,000 home loan successfully sued her mortgage lender under West Virginia consumer-protection laws, arguing that the lender had defrauded her by lending her more money than her house was worth. The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals upheld awards of $17,500 in compensatory damages, $600,000 in attorney’s fees, and more than $2 million in punitive damages. In doing so, the state court refused to consider the lender’s argument that the punitive damages were unconstitutionally excessive, on the purported ground that the lender had not previously raised that federal claim—despite the fact that two of the five state justices found that the lender had, in fact, raised the claim explicitly and repeatedly. On behalf of the Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America, we filed an amicus brief supporting the lender’s cert. petition. We argued that state courts should not be able to insulate their decisions against Supreme Court review by disingenuously finding waiver of federal claims or defenses, and therefore that the Supreme Court should summarily reverse the state court’s decision to send a strong reminder that state courts are bound by Supreme Court precedent on questions of federal law.