NJ Retail Merch. Assoc. v. Sidamon-Eristoff, No. 10-4551 (3d Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
Merchants challenged 2010 N.J. Laws Chapter 25, amending the unclaimed property statute, N.J. Stat. 46:30B, to provide for escheat of stored value cards (gift cards). Chapter 25 presumes cards to be abandoned after two years of inactivity and requires issuers to transfer remaining value to the state. Issuers must obtain name and address of the purchaser or owner of each card. If the issuer's state exempts cards from its unclaimed property statute, unredeemed balances of cards previously-issued in New Jersey, where information was not recorded, must be reported to New Jersey. The address where the card issued or sold is presumed to be the owner's domicile. The district court enjoined retroactive application of Chapter 25 and prospective enforcement of the place-of-purchase presumption, but declined to enjoin data collection and two-year abandonment provisions. The Third Circuit affirmed. Chapter 25 substantially impaired contractual relationships by imposing unexpected obligations and did not reasonably accommodate the rights of the parties in light of the public purpose. The abandonment period is not preempted by the Credit CARD Act, 15 U.S.C. 1693l-1(c). The place-of-purchase presumption is preempted by federal common law, under which the first opportunity to escheat belongs to the state of the last known address of the creditor, shown by the debtor's records. If the primary rule does not apply, the right to escheat is with the state in which the debtor is incorporated.