In Santander Consumer USA, Inc. v. City of San Antonio, No. 04-20-00341-CV, 2020 Tex. App. LEXIS 10314 (Tex. App. Dec. 30, 2020), the Court of Appeal found no conflict between Gramm-Leach Bliley and the City’s impound laws. The facts were as follows:
In San Antonio, when a vehicle is abandoned, towed from a collision site, or seized in connection with criminal activity, the City stores that vehicle at a lot it owns and uses solely for storage of vehicles impounded by the City’s police department. A. Notice to Owners When the City tows a vehicle to the impound lot, it sends notice of the impoundment to the vehicle’s owner and to any lienholder whose security interest is documented on the vehicle’s title. If neither the owner nor the lienholder retrieves the vehicle after the first notice, the City then sends a “Law Enforcement Abandonment Notice” which states the vehicle will be disposed of if it is not reclaimed within twenty days. The record shows the City typically sends the first notice when it has had possession of the vehicle for two days and sends the “Law Enforcement Abandonment Notice” ten days after the first notice. It is undisputed that the City sent, and Santander received, the notices described above for each vehicle at issue in this case before those vehicles were sold. B. Conditions to Recover Vehicle Under Texas state law and city ordinances, an owner or lienholder must pay certain fees to recover an impounded vehicle. Tex. Transp. Code Ann. § 683.013; San Antonio, Tex., Code of Ordinances ch. 19, §§ 19-52, 19-53, 19-53.1, 19-54(a) (2008). Additionally, section 19-54(a)(3) provides that a lienholder [*3] seeking to repossess a vehicle from the City’s impound lot must demonstrate that the note on the vehicle is delinquent by at least thirty days. San Antonio, Tex., Code of Ordinances ch. 19, § 19-54(a)(3) (2008). Santander alleges that it attempted to recover the vehicles at issue here by tendering the required fees, but the City refused to release them because Santander did not provide evidence of delinquency. Because neither the owners nor Santander retrieved the vehicles, the City auctioned some of them to private parties and sold others to the San Antonio Police Department for use in law enforcement. C. Disposition of Vehicles, Proceeds The City sold the vehicles at issue here between January 9, 2019, and July 10, 2019. Texas law provides that after such a sale, the City may reimburse itself for certain costs and must then hold the remainder—which the parties call “excess proceeds”—for ninety days for the owner or lienholder. See Tex. Transp. Code Ann. § 683.015(a), (b). If the excess proceeds are not claimed within ninety days, the City must deposit the funds into an account that may be used to pay costs related to impounding and auctioning other vehicles. Id. § 683.015(c). The City may also transfer funds exceeding $1,000 from that account to its general revenue fund to be used for law enforcement purposes. Id. § 683.015(d). It is undisputed that the City did not remit any excess proceeds from the relevant sales to Santander.
The Court of Appeal found no conflict between GLB and the impound laws.
Santander also argues section 19-54(a)(3) is inconsistent with the federal Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. See Pub. L. No. 106-102, 113 Stat. 1338 (codified as amended at, e.g., 15 U.S.C. § 6802(a)). Santander contends section 19-54(a)(3) required it to divulge its customers’ delinquencies in violation of the Act’s prohibition on the disclosure of “nonpublic personal information” to third parties. Compare id., with San Antonio, Tex., Code of Ordinances ch. 19, § 19-54(a)(3) (2008). However, as the City notes, the Act contains an exception that explicitly allows the disclosure of nonpublic personal information “to comply with Federal, State, or local laws, rules, and other applicable legal requirements.” See 15 U.S.C. § 6802(e)(8). Santander does not explain how its claimed conflict survives the application of this exception. As a result, we reject its assertion that the Act excuses its failure to comply with section 19-54(a)(3). See id.; see also VSC, 347 S.W.3d at 240.