Scott M. Pearson

Tel 424.204.4323
Fax 424.204.4350
Los Angeles

Scott Pearson focuses his practice on the defense of regulatory enforcement actions and class actions, other complex business litigation, and regulatory compliance counseling. Martindale-Hubbell rates Scott "at the highest level of professional excellence." He has been called "a true expert in complex litigation and consumer class actions" and "a no-nonsense bulldog lawyer who is highly respected by his peers and the judiciary." In March 2018, Scott was named a BTI Client Service All-Star for "delivering the absolute best client service" based on a national survey of in-house counsel.

Prominent companies regularly entrust Scott with matters involving bet-the-company exposure or extreme complexity, such as overlapping claims being pursued simultaneously in multiple jurisdictions by federal regulators, state Attorneys General, and class action plaintiffs. He also serves as a trusted strategic business advisor, drawing on more than twenty years of experience. His clients include national banks and other financial services firms, institutional investors, sports and entertainment companies, retailers, and others.

Scott leads Ballard Spahr's Marketplace Lending Team, which focuses on the representation of Fintech companies and their business partners. He is widely recognized as one of the preeminent authorities on the unique issues facing that industry.

Representative Matters

Regulatory Enforcement Actions

  • Favorably settled Consumer Financial Protection Bureau enforcement action against automobile finance company alleging deceptive marketing of ancillary products. In announcing the settlement, the CFPB lauded the client's "responsible" and "proactive" handling of the CFPB's concerns and attributed its decision to impose limited redress (including no civil monetary penalty) to the handling of the case.
  • Represented credit card issuers in several separate groups of enforcement actions brought by the CFPB, FDIC, OCC, and several state Attorneys General challenging the marketing and suitability of debt suspension, identity theft, and other fee products.
  • Represented several companies responding to CFPB Civil Investigative Demands concerning payroll card practices.
  • Represented a national retailer in investigation by a state Attorney General concerning weights and measures issues.
  • Represented a student loan company in a state Attorney General investigation concerning marketing practices.


Credit Card

  • Represented several issuers in separate groups of competing class actions concerning debt suspension and other "add-on" fee products. Reached a favorable global settlement for one issuer after successfully consolidating the cases in an MDL, and compelled multiple individual arbitrations for others.
  • Favorably settled numerous simultaneous class actions brought against a major credit card issuer alleging inadequate disclosure of foreign currency conversion practices. Obtained final approval of class settlement over objections from plaintiffs in competing cases.
  • Favorably settled class actions against issuers alleging damages based on use of cut-off time for crediting payments by mail. One of the cases, Boehr v. Discover Bank, settled after plaintiff was compelled to arbitrate on an individual basis after years of highly publicized arbitration appeals, and Discover prevailed at the arbitration hearing.
  • Represented a major credit card issuer in a putative class action alleging improper expiration of frequent flyer miles. Obtained summary adjudication of principal claim and then defeated a motion for attorneys' fees after remaining claims were voluntarily dismissed.
  • Favorably settled a class action alleging inadequate disclosure of interest compounding practices.
  • Favorably settled numerous separate class actions seeking to invalidate credit card debt incurred through Internet or other gambling activities.
  • Other successful credit card representations include class actions challenging termination of card reward benefits, gift card expiration practices, and convenience and balance transfer check disclosures.

Residential Mortgage

  • Favorably settled several separate class actions against large banks alleging systematic misadjustment of adjustable interest rates.
  • Successfully defended putative class action challenging propriety of prepayment penalties.
  • Numerous representations of large banks in disputes with other banks or investors over mortgage servicing transfers, indemnification obligations, and securitization issues.
  • Successfully represented national mortgage lenders in class actions and individual cases challenging the lenders' entitlement to earthquake insurance proceeds. One case resulted in a key published opinion on the issue, JEM Enterprises v. Washington Mutual Bank, 99 Cal. App. 4th 638 (2002).
  • Extensive experience managing portfolios of routine litigation for large banks and mortgage servicers.

Commercial Lending

  • Obtained a published opinion in Weiss v. Washington Mutual Bank, 147 Cal. App. 4th 72 (2007), confirming that the Home Owners' Loan Act and related regulations preempted plaintiffs' challenge to certain prepayment penalties.
  • Successfully defended a national bank against RICO and other claims arising out of dispute between partners in commercial redevelopment project financed by the bank.
  • Other successful representations include enforcement of commercial loans and related guaranties, disputes between syndicated loan participants and agent bank, and various lender liability claims.

Marketplace Lending and Alternative Finance

  • Successfully defended or settled multiple usury class actions alleging that merchant cash advances were disguised loans.
  • Numerous successful defenses of usury cases alleging "true lender" claims.
  • Favorably settled class action against a payday lender alleging failure to comply with certain California disclosure requirements.
  • Favorably settled a class action against a specialty finance firm challenging marketing of ATM lease financing.

Regulatory Compliance Advice

  • Extensive experience advising participants in marketplace lending programs on bank partnership structures, Madden and true lender risk, state licensing, and other compliance matters.
  • Extensive experience drafting arbitration agreements with enforceable class action waivers.
  • Drafted, redrafted, or substantially revised agreements for consumer and small business financial products including credit cards and other open-end consumer loans, closed-end unsecured loans, prepaid cards, automobile leases, retail installment sale contracts, business installment loans, merchant cash advances, and payday loans.
  • Extensive experience advising on compliance systems, including revision of policies, procedures, and internal controls.
  • Advised banks, retailers, and other companies on customer loyalty programs and related advertising issues.
  • Regularly advise national retailers, banks, and other consumer-focused companies on privacy-related issues, including Gramm-Leach-Bliley and Telephone Consumer Protection Act compliance and issues associated with various marketing practices.
  • Regularly review advertising materials for FTC compliance issues such as "up to" claims.
  • Conduct regulatory due diligence for acquisition of financial services companies.

Unfair and Deceptive Business Practices Litigation

  • Numerous successful representations of defendants other than financial institutions in class and representative actions alleging false or misleading advertising of, or use of unfair business practices with, a wide variety of products and services.
  • Extensive experience defending claims brought under California Business and Professions Code Section 17200, the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act, and other state UDAP statutes.
  • Played significant role in the drafting of Proposition 64, a major reform of California's Unfair Competition Law.
  • Multiple successful representations of companies whose names had been used without permission by scam artists for various illegal purposes, such as to steal money from consumers or generate fraudulent sales leads. 

Real Estate

  • Successfully defended a large REIT against antitrust claims including allegation that it conditioned lease opportunities at one mall on agreement to lease at another. Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed before preliminary injunction hearing in response to demand letter accompanying opposition papers.
  • Multiple representations of developers in disputes over development fees and profit participations, including multimillion-dollar recovery in 2012 for publicly traded real estate developer.
  • Multiple representations of buyers and sellers of commercial real estate in disputes ranging from breach of purchase agreements to whether broker commissions were owed.
  • Prevailed after two trials and multiple appeals in declaratory relief action brought by a bank landlord against a law firm tenant that claimed waiver of significant market-rent increase. The bank recovered 100 percent of relief it sought and all of its attorneys' fees and costs before reaching settlement.
  • Significant experience with judicial and non-judicial foreclosures, enforcement of guaranties, lot-line adjustments, title issues, ground leases, easement disputes and California's anti-deficiency statutes and "one action" rule.

Investment-Related Litigation

  • Multiple successful representations of private equity firm portfolio companies in "bet the company" cases ranging from a claim that a company's sole product violated applicable building codes to class actions alleging that the company's principal business is prohibited by the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
  • Multiple successful representations of private equity firms and their principals in cases brought against directors and shareholders arising out of portfolio company activities.
  • Multiple successful representations of large financial institutions sued together with the actual wrongdoers in investment fraud cases.
  • Successfully defended arbitration against a large broker-dealer and broker alleging churning of extremely large municipal bond portfolio.
  • Extensive experience advising private equity firms and hedge funds on appropriate pre-distribution litigation reserves.

Privacy and Data Security (including Telemarketing)

  • Obtained summary judgment and avoided draconian statutory penalties for a major credit card issuer in putative class action challenging customer service call recording practices.
  • Favorably settled call recording class action on behalf of a national merchant services provider. Client paid (with large insurance contribution) substantially less than 1 percent of $1.7 billion in potential exposure.
  • Numerous successful representations of defendants in class and individual actions alleging violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
  • Represented a major Internet retailer in numerous proceedings arising from massive theft of customer data by hacker, including state Attorney General statutory notifications and investigations, PCI DSS (payment card network data security rules) compliance, and defense of numerous resultant consumer class actions.
  • Successfully settled series of putative class actions brought against national banks and their affiliates challenging the sharing and/or use of customer information for marketing purposes.

Sports and Entertainment

  • Successfully represented concert promoter in class action challenging marketing of major music festival.
  • Represented NHL club in grievance proceeding against another club arising out of representations made prior to player trade. 
  • Counsel to NFL, MLB, NHL and MLS clubs on various regulatory compliance issues associated with ticketing and other business operations.
  • Advised NHL club on various confidential player issues.
  • Counsel to entertainment companies on regulatory compliance issues associated with ticket sales and other direct-to-consumer operations. 

Intellectual Property and Trade Secrets

  • Successfully represented an aerospace manufacturer who discovered that former employee had copied voluminous product data onto thumb drive before taking job with competitor. Obtained temporary, preliminary, and permanent injunctive relief preventing any use of the data; court made criminal referral after six-week jury trial based on defendants' destruction of evidence.
  • Represented multiple clients in different industries in trademark infringement actions, employee raiding cases, licensing matters, and Internet domain name disputes.

Legal Process Engineering

  • Worked with a national bank and its outside counsel to re-engineer the process for a category of litigation, resulting in multimillion-dollar annual performance improvement for the bank, as measured by legal spend, recovery on investment, and other metrics.
  • Regularly employ process mapping and other Lean Six Sigma techniques to effect continuous improvement of litigation and other legal processes.

Pro Bono Experience

Clients have included the Green Beret Foundation and the Exotic Feline Conservation Center.

Recent Publications (partial list)

Co-author, "More Questions Than Answers in Ninth Circuit's Examination of Critical California Arbitration Issue," Ballard Spahr alert, February 22, 2019

Co-author, "President Trump Doubles Down on 'Buy American' Mandates," Ballard Spahr alert, February 1, 2019

Co-author, "'Double-Dipping' Class Actions Illustrate Importance of Ticketing Compliance Programs," Ballard Spahr alert, October 15, 2018

Co-author, "Ninth Circuit Rules California 'No Credit Card Surcharge' Law Violates First Amendment," Ballard Spahr alert, January 8, 2018

Co-author, "Alleged FCRA Violation Sufficiently Concrete for Article III Standing, Ninth Circuit Holds in Spokeo II," Ballard Spahr alert, August 17, 2017

Co-author, "California Supreme Court to Decide Key Finance Lender Law Usury and Unconscionability Issue," Ballard Spahr alert, August 16, 2017

Co-author, "Vermont Enacts Loan Solicitation License, Amends Other Financial Regulation Licensing Provisions," Ballard Spahr alert, June 2, 2017  

Co-author, "Two Banks Fight Back Against Colorado Regulator in Bank-Model Dispute," Ballard Spahr alert, April 6, 2017

Co-author, "New York’s "No Credit Card Surcharge" Law Regulates Speech, SCOTUS Rules," Ballard Spahr alert, March 30, 2017

Co-author, "OCC Issues Draft Licensing Supplement for Fintech Companies Seeking National Bank Charters," Ballard Spahr alert, March 24, 2017

Co-author, "Lawmaker Seeks CFPB Fair Lending Investigation of Fintech Small Business Lenders," Ballard Spahr alert, March 16, 2017

Co-author, "Ninth Circuit to Decide Key TCPA Insurance Issue," Ballard Spahr alert, February 22, 2017 

Co-author, "Sixth Circuit Denies Arbitration in TCPA Class Action for Calls to Past Customers," Ballard Spahr alert, February 21, 2017

Co-author, "NY Licensing Proposal Threatens New Burdens on Financial Services Providers, Reduced Credit Availability," Ballard Spahr alert, February 14, 2017

Co-author, "NYDFS, American Bankers Association Weigh In On OCC Fintech Charter Proposal," Ballard Spahr alert, January 27, 2017

Co-author, "OCC Proposes to Grant National Bank Charters to Financial Technology Companies," Ballard Spahr alert, December 9, 2016

Co-author, "FTC Seeks Information on Class Action Claims Rates," Ballard Spahr alert, November 17, 2016

Co-author, "D.C. Circuit Holds CFPB Structure Unconstitutional, Interpretation of RESPA Not Entitled to Deference," Ballard Spahr alert, October 12, 2016

Co-author, "Arbitrator, Not Court, Decides If Arbitration Agreement Allows Class Arbitration, California Supreme Court Rules," Ballard Spahr alert, August 3, 2016

Co-author, "FTC Consent Order Creates Uncertainty for Advertising of Credit, Lease Offers," Ballard Spahr alert, July 19, 2016

Co-author, "Installment Lender Using Bank Partner Model Needs Maryland License, Court of Appeals Rules," Ballard Spahr alert, July 15, 2016

Co-author, "Supreme Court Denies Certiorari To Review Second Circuit’s Decision in Madden v. Midland Funding, LLC," Ballard Spahr alert, June 28, 2016

Co-author, "Contractor’s Use of AG Letterhead Not a Violation of FDCPA, Supreme Court Holds," Ballard Spahr alert, May 23, 2016

Co-author, "'Real' Harm Required To Recover Statutory Damages, U.S. Supreme Court Rules," Ballard Spahr alert, May 17, 2016

Co-author, "Supreme Court Allows Use of Statistical Sampling in Class Actions, But Only In Narrow Circumstances," Ballard Spahr alert, March 24, 2016

Co-author, "FDIC Developing Guidance on Risks For Banks Lending Through Third Parties," Ballard Spahr alert, March 23, 2016

Co-author, "Borrower Has Standing To Challenge Foreclosure Sale Based on Late Assignment of Deed of Trust, Calif. Supreme Court Rules; Many Questions Left Unanswered," Ballard Spahr alert, February 25, 2016

Co-author, "Ninth Circuit Rejects Attempt to Challenge FCC Order on TCPA," Ballard Spahr alert, February 8, 2016

Co-author, "Unaccepted Rule 68 Offer Does Not Moot a Plaintiff’s Claims, U.S. Supreme Court Rules," Ballard Spahr alert, January 21, 2016

Co-author, "U.S. Supreme Court Again Reverses California State Court on Arbitration," Ballard Spahr alert, December 17, 2015 

Co-author, "CFPB CARD Act Report Signals Continued Scrutiny of Credit Card Practices," Ballard Spahr alert, December 7, 2015

Co-author, "Colorado Supreme Court Ruling That Litigation Financing is a Loan Could Have Broader Reach," Ballard Spahr alert, November 20, 2015

Co-author, "The Next EFTA Class Action Wave Has Started," Ballard Spahr alert, September 1, 2015

Co-author, "Defense Department Dramatically Expands Scope of Military Lending Act," Ballard Spahr alert, July 27, 2015

Co-author, "Wholly Underwater Junior Liens May Not Be Stripped Off in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Proceedings," Ballard Spahr alert, June 2, 2015

Co-author, "'Operation Ruse Control' Announcement Highlights Importance of Auto Finance Compliance," Ballard Spahr alert, March 31, 2015

Recent Speaking Engagements (partial list)

Speaker, "Current Legal Issues/Strategies for Addressing Debt Relief Companies," ARDA webinar, June 5, 2018

Speaker, "The Impact of Regulation and Policy on Online Lending," LEND360 webinar, June 21, 2017

Speaker, "Live Event Ticketing Litigation and Business Update," Sports Lawyers Association 43rd Annual Conference, Denver, May 19, 2017 

Speaker, "Ancillary Products and Advertising Issues," Ballard Spahr auto finance programs, Dallas and Detroit, March 22-23, 2016

Speaker, "Is FinTech FairTech? (The Government Wants to Know): Fair Lending Issues for Marketplace Lenders," Ballard Spahr webinar, June 9, 2016

Speaker, "The U.S. Supreme Court's Spokeo Decision – What It Means for Statutory Damages Claims and Class Certification," Ballard Spahr webinar, June 7, 2016 

Speaker, "Risks and Opportunities for Marketplace Auto Lending," The Center for Auto Finance Excellence webinar, June 6, 2016

Speaker, "The CFPB's Proposed Rule on Consumer Arbitration Agreements – What You Need to Know," Ballard Spahr webinar, May 23, 2016

Speaker, "CFPB Regulatory Certainty or Uncertainty? Consent Orders, Informal Guidance, and the New No-Action Letter Policy," Ballard Spahr webinar, March 24, 2016

Conference Co-Chair and Speaker, "The Latest Class Action Claims and Defense Strategies," American Conference Institute's 24th National Conference on Consumer Finance Class Actions and Litigation, Miami, January 26-27, 2016

Speaker, "Recent Developments in TCPA Litigation: What Businesses Need to Know About Consent, Primary Users, and Re-assigned Phone Numbers," Ballard Spahr webinar, January 21, 2016

Speaker, "Managing Small Business Banking Regulatory and Class Action Risk," American Banker Small Business Banking Conference, Nashville, November 16, 2015

Speaker, "Regulatory and Class Action Risks in Marketplace Lending," Lend360, Atlanta, October 15, 2015

Speaker, "The Impact of Gomez on Class Actions," Ballard Spahr webinar, October 6, 2015

Speaker, "CFPB: What Can We Expect This Year?” Association of Consumer Vehicle Lessors Annual Conference, San Diego, September 29, 2015

Speaker, "Important Developments in the Settlement of Class Actions," American Conference Institute's 18th National Forum on Residential Mortgage Litigation & Regulatory Enforcement, Dallas, September 18, 2015

Conference Co-Chair and Moderator, "Regulatory and Enforcement Roundtable: The View from Federal and State Agencies on New and Emerging Initiatives, Enforcement Actions, Examination Procedures, and Investigations," American Conference Institute's 23rd National Conference on Consumer Finance Class Actions and Litigation, Chicago, July 27-28, 2015 

Speaker, "Mortgage Banking Litigation Update: Trends in the Western Region," Ballard Spahr webinar, July 16, 2015

Speaker, "Important Developments in the Settlement of Class Actions," American Conference Institute's 17th National Forum on Residential Mortgage Litigation and Regulatory Enforcement, Washington, D.C., May 1, 2015

Co-Chair and Speaker, "The Latest Regulatory, Supervision, Investigation, and Enforcement Initiatives, Examination Procedures and Attorneys General Lawsuits Against Financial Services Companies," American Conference Institute's 21st National Conference on Consumer Finance Class Action & Litigation, New York, January 29-30, 2015

Professional Activities

Consumer Financial Services Committee, Business Law Section, State Bar of California, 2012-2016

Advisory Board, USC Institute for Corporate Counsel

Recognition & Accomplishments

BTI Client Service All-Star

Fellow, American College of Consumer Financial Services Lawyers

The Legal 500 United States, Financial Services Regulation

AV Peer Review Rating, Martindale-Hubbell

2014 Felitarian of the Year, Exotic Feline Breeding Compound

Board Memberships

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Board of Governors, 2007-Present

Green Beret Foundation, Advisory Board, 2010-2015

University of Southern California Law Center (J.D. 1994)
Editor-in-Chief, Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal
Editor-in-Chief, Major Tax Planning

Claremont McKenna College (B.A. 1990, cum laude)

Dartmouth College – Thayer School of Engineering, Lean Six Sigma Green Belt


U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona

U.S. District Courts for the Central, Southern, Northern, and Eastern Districts of California

U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit

U.S. Supreme Court