Monday, January 31, 2011

Breaking News: Appeals Court Enjoins Zip Code Requirement & Other Updates Regarding NJ Litigation

Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, based in Philadelphia, temporarily enjoined New Jersey from enforcing a state law requiring gift card issuers to obtain the zip code from the purchaser or owner at the time of purchase.

As we noted earlier, the district court responsible for overseeing the New Jersey litigation ruled last week that the zip code requirement could be enforced.  The card issuers involved in the New Jersey gift card litigation then appealed the lower court's ruling regarding the Zip Code Requirement to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.  New Jersey has already appealed the district court's earlier ruling preventing the state from (1) imposing a presumption that cards sold in New Jersey are escheatable to New Jersey and (2) requiring merchants to escheat the cash value of merchandise only gift cards issued prior to the effective date of the act.

Note that this is only a preliminary decision by the appellate court.  A full decision on the merits probably won't happen for a few weeks.

Also, its been awhile since we provided an updated status of the parallel litigations relating to money orders and traveler's checks.  In both the money orders case (MEMO v. Sidamon-Eristoff) and the traveler's check case (AMEX v. Sidamon-Eristoff) the issuers of those items are challenging New Jersey's decision to shorten the dormancy period for those items to 3 years (down from 7 years in the case of money orders, and from 15 years in the case of traveler's checks).  In both of those cases, the district court ruled that the state could permissibly shorten the dormancy period for the items in questions, and the issuers have appealed that ruling to the Court of Appeals.  In both instances, the Court of Appeals has issued a temporary restraining order preventing the state from enforcing the shortened dormancy periods until such time as the appellate court has had a chance to review the ruling.

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