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1.5.4 Case Law

The importance of case law to Truth in Lending is similar to its importance in other fields of law; the courts are the final arbiters of how to interpret TILA and its associated regulations.277 One difficulty is determining the value of the numerous pre-Simplification cases278 under the current law. There is no one answer to this problem because the amendment of TILA and Regulation Z was not uniform. On some topics, such as the definition of a “creditor,”279 the statutory and regulatory treatments have changed dramatically, and cases decided under the amended portions of the prior Act are largely irrelevant to current credit transactions. On topics where the underlying statutory and regulatory provisions are substantially the same in current law as they were prior to Simplification, the old cases should still be authoritative.

For a variety of reasons, decisions on prior law were still being published for many years after Simplification took effect. Therefore, the year of decision alone is not a good guide to whether a case is good law. Before an older case is treated as valid precedent, a careful practitioner should always review the provision that serves as the basis for the decision to make certain that it is part of the current law.

In this edition of this treatise, we have attempted to eliminate references to cases that are no longer good law. On the other hand, we have retained pre-Simplification cases that appear to have continued vitality. However, some cases may have more than one holding, only one of which is good law. (We also may have made some mistakes, heaven forfend. Corrections from readers are appreciated.)

In addition to reported cases, there are a variety of other places where case law cited in this treatise is available. Some citations are to cases that are reported by Westlaw or Lexis. Otherwise unreported TILA cases may be also reported in the Consumer Credit Guide (CCH),280 the National Consumer Law Center’s website at, and Clearinghouse Review.281


  • 277 {240} State courts are “bound by the authoritative holdings of federal courts on federal questions when there is no conflict.” See, e.g., Kocsis v. Pierce, 480 N.W.2d 598 (Mich. Ct. App. 1991).

  • 278 {241} See National Consumer Law Center, Truth in Lending Case Summaries (1977, 1980, and 1983) (compilation of pre-Simplification cases).

  • 279 {242} See § 2.3, infra.

  • 280 {243} Published by Commerce Clearing House (Chicago, IL).

  • 281 {244} Cases and other materials in this book that are cited with Clearinghouse numbers were submitted to and stored by the National Clearinghouse for Legal Services, now the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law—located at Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, 50 E. Washington St., Suite 500, Chicago, IL 60602, (312) 263-3830, They are not stored at NCLC. We would appreciate your forwarding copies to NCLC of any of these cases if you obtain them from the Shriver Center (many are no longer available through them) or if you obtain them from the court or from another source. We will post them on our website with access to the general public. Please mail such cases to NCLC, TILA Editor, 7 Winthrop Sq., Boston, MA 02110; fax them to (617) 542-8028, attention TILA editor; or e-mail them to, with “Attention TILA Editor” in the subject line.