Here's one to remind us that we sometimes are in the hair splitting business because the government puts us there.

BANKING; TRUTH-IN-LENDING: A $14 charge for an air courier used by the title insurance company closing loan for lender is not a finance charge under Truth-in-Lending Act (TILA) Cowen v. Bank United of Texas fsb, 70 F.3d 937 (7th Cir. 1995). TILA requires the disclosure to borrowers of any "finance charge" - a charge that is payable, directly or indirectly, by borrowers and imposed, directly or indirectly, by lenders as an incident to or condition of making the loan. Lender did not disclose the $14 air courier fee which was charged by the title company that closed the loan. Borrower claimed it violated TILA and demanded a monetary recovery against lender in the amount of $1,000 notwithstanding that borrower actually benefited by the air courier service since borrower's mortgage was paid off earlier and interest was saved.

Held: Summary judgment for lender. If lender had sent the check or directed the title company to send the check by air courier, the charge would have been a "finance charge" that would have to have been disclosed. Lender, however, did not direct the title company to use an air courier. Although the title company was an agent of lender, it was also a principal. In using the air courier, the title company made its own decision to protect its own interest as well as lender's interest.

The court was further influenced by an interpretive regulation under TILA which provides that a fee for a courier service charged by a settlement agent to send a document to the title company or some other party is not a finance charge provided that the creditor has not required the use of a courier or retained the charge.

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