Justia Banking Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court reversed the foreclosure decree entered by the district court giving priority under a future-advances clause to the full amount of credit extended by the first lienholder rather than the maximum amount set forth in the notice provision of the first lienholder's mortgage, holding that the first lienholder's priority was capped at $148,000. A bank made a series of loans to a farmer and obtained a mortgage with a future-advances clause on a farm property. The bank's mortgage contained language stating that the mortgage secured credit in the amount of $148,000. The farmer later took out a loan from a second bank, also secured in part by the same farm property. When the first bank filed a foreclosure proceeding, the parties disputed whether the first bank's lien had priority for all amounts due to the first bank or only up to $148,000. The district court found that the first bank's priority was not limited to $148,000 but extended to all debt secured by the mortgage. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the first bank's priority was capped at $148,000, plus interest; and (2) the first bank was not allowed to collect default interest at eighteen percent as part of its first-priority lien where there was no written agreement to pay that rate. View "Blue Grass Savings Bank v. Community Bank & Trust Co." on Justia Law

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In 1987, Whitaker opened commodity futures trading accounts that eventually were assigned to Wedbush. Whitaker did not enter into a new customer or security agreement with Wedbush. Wedbush held Whitaker’s funds in customer segregated accounts at BMO Harris, which provided an online portal for Wedbush to process its customers' wire transfers. In December 2014, Wedbush received emailed wire transfer requests purporting to be from Whitaker but actually sent by a hacker. Wedbush completed transfers to a bank in Poland totaling $374,960. Each time, Wedbush sent an acknowledgment to Whitaker’s e-mail account; the hacker apparently intercepted all email communications. Whitaker contacted Wedbush after receiving an account statement containing an incorrect balance. After Wedbush refused Whitaker’s demand for the return of the transferred funds, Whitaker filed suit seeking a refund under the UCC (810 ILCS 5/4A-101). The circuit court rejected the UCC counts, stating that Wedbush had not operated as a “bank” under the UCC definition. The appellate court affirmed. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed, rejecting an argument that an entity may not qualify as a bank if it does not offer checking services. Courts construe the term “bank” in article 4A liberally to promote the purposes and policies of the UCC. The term “includes some institutions that are not commercial banks” and that “[t]he definition reflects the fact that many financial institutions now perform functions previously restricted to commercial banks, including acting on behalf of customers in funds transfers.” View "Whitaker v. Wedbush Securities, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of foreclosure entered by the district court in favor of U.S. Bank, holding that the district court did not err in concluding that U.S. Bank had standing to foreclose. U.S. Bank filed a complaint for foreclosure. At a hearing, the court admitted, over Jim Gordon's objection, a copy if a 2016 "Ratification of Assignment" stating that Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., as nominee for EquiFirst Corporation, assigned the mortgage in this case to U.S. Bank. The court ultimately concluded that U.S. Bank had standing to foreclose pursuant to the 2016 ratification and entered a judgment of foreclosure in favor of U.S. Bank. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the court did not abuse its discretion by admitting the copy of the 2016 ratification; and (2) the court did not err in concluding that U.S. Bank had standing. View "U.S. Bank National Association v. Gordon" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff requested that the court set aside a foreclosure sale of his residence because his lender mailed him a preforeclosure notice with the wrong deadline for curing default. In this case, the letter contained a deadline thirty days from the day the notice was printed, even though the deed of trust called for a deadline thirty days from the day the letter was mailed. The Fifth Circuit held that the district court correctly applied Texas precedents and denied plaintiff relief, because the lender's "minor" non-compliance with the terms of the deed of trust did not justify unwinding the foreclosure sale. The court held that the error in the foreclosure notice did not clearly harm or prejudice plaintiff, where he does not dispute that, even if the notice had stated the correct deadline, he would not have had the funds to pay the past-due balance on his account. View "Casalicchio v. BOKF, N.A." on Justia Law

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Whitney Bank filed suit against SMI and its president and loan guarantor in order to collect under two loan agreements upon which SMI allegedly defaulted. SMI filed several counterclaims. The Fifth Circuit held that SMI's breach of contract claim against Whitney Bank failed for two reasons: first, under basic contract interpretation principles, the mere recital of the purpose of the loan, when read in conjunction with the rest of the document, did not require Whitney Bank to continue to provide funding to SMI until that purpose was fulfilled, regardless of SMI's default and failure to make payment as required under the loans; and second, the remainder of SMI's breach claims are based on unwritten purported oral agreements between Whitney Bank employees and SMI. Therefore, the court affirmed the magistrate judge's ruling in favor of Whitney Bank on its main demand for recovery under Loan 1; reversed the magistrate judge's ruling against Whitney Bank on its main demand for recovery on Loan 2; and remanded and rendered judgment in favor of Whitney Bank on the Loan 2 claim. The court reversed and remanded for the magistrate judge to render judgment in favor of Whitney Bank on SMI's counterclaims for breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, tortious interference with business relations, and breach of duty to deal in good faith. However, the court affirmed the magistrate judge's ruling that Whitney Bank was not entitled to recover from SMI for attorneys' fees and costs. View "Whitney Bank v. SMI Companies Global, Inc." on Justia Law

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In a foreclosure action, the Second Circuit certified the following two questions to the New York Court of Appeals: (1) Where a foreclosure plaintiff seeks to establish compliance with RPAPL 1304 through proof of a standard office mailing procedure, and the defendant both denies receipt and seeks to rebut the presumption of receipt by showing that the mailing procedure was not followed, what showing must the defendant make to render inadequate the plaintiff's proof of compliance with section 1304? (2) Where there are multiple borrowers on a single loan, does RPAPL 1306 require that a lender's filing include information about all borrowers, or does section 1306 require only that a lender's filing include information about one borrower? View "CIT Bank N.A. v. Schiffman" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff alleges she bought her Richmond home in 1973, refinanced her mortgage in 2005, and unsuccessfully applied for a loan modification in 2015. Plaintiff was not allowed to make payments in the interim and owed $20,000 in arrears. Plaintiff sought Chapter 13 bankruptcy relief. She was required to make monthly payments to cover her pre-petition mortgage arrears plus her regular monthly mortgage payments. Plaintiff failed to make her regular October 2016 mortgage payment. Defendant sought relief from the automatic bankruptcy stay. The bankruptcy court approved an agreement that she would pay the October and November payments over a period beginning in January 2017. Plaintiff claims defendant violated that agreement, that her attempts to make those payments failed, and that she was unable to contact the defendant’s “single point of contact” for foreclosure avoidance (Civil Code 2923.7) Defendant obtained relief from the bankruptcy stay and would not accept the January 2017 payment. At the time of the bankruptcy sale, plaintiff’s home was worth approximately $550,000; defendant sold the home for $403,000. The court of appeal reversed the dismissal of plaintiff’s claim that she should have been able to avoid foreclosure by tendering the amount in default (Civ. Code 2924c) and that it was unlawful for defendant also to demand payment on amounts subject to a confirmed bankruptcy plan and reversed the dismissal of the section 2923.7 claim but upheld the dismissal of breach of contract, negligence, and elder abuse claims. View "Williams v. 21st Mortgage Corp." on Justia Law

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Preston brought a putative class action, claiming that Midland Credit sent him a collection letter that violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. 1692–1692[. He claimed the words “TIME SENSITIVE DOCUMENT” on the envelope violated section 1692f(8)’s prohibition against “[u]sing any language or symbol,” other than the defendant’s business name or address, on the envelope of a debt collection letter. He claimed that those words, and the combination statements about discounted payment options with a statement that Midland was not obligated to renew those offers, in the body of the letter, were false and deceptive, under section 1692e(2) and (10). The district court dismissed the complaint, citing a "benign‐language exception" to the statutory language because the language “TIME SENSITIVE DOCUMENT” did not create any privacy concerns or expose Preston to embarrassment. The court also rejected Preston’s section 1692e claims. The Seventh Circuit reversed in part: the language of section 1692f(8) is clear and its application does not lead to absurd results. The prohibition of any writing on an envelope containing a debt collection letter represents a rational policy choice by Congress. The language on the envelope and in the letter does not, however, violate section 1692e(2) and (10). Midland accurately and appropriately used safe‐harbor language as described in precedent. View "Preston v. Midland Credit Management, Inc." on Justia Law

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The plaintiffs received form notices from Client Services with a header stated only “RE: CHASE BANK USA, N.A.,” with an account number. The letters continued: “The above account has been placed with our organization for collections.” The letters did not say whether Chase Bank still owned the accounts or had sold the debts. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. 1692, requires the collector of consumer debt to send the consumer-debtor a written notice containing, among other information, “the name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed.” The plaintiffs argued that Client Services’ letters failed to identify clearly the current holder of the debt. The district court certified a plaintiff class of Wisconsin debtors who received substantially identical notices from Client Services, found that Chase Bank was actually the current creditor, and granted Client Services summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit reversed and remanded. The actual identity of the current creditor does not control the result. The question under the statute is whether the letters identified the then-current creditor clearly enough that an unsophisticated consumer could identify it without guesswork. The notices here failed that test. View "Steffek v. Client Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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The administrator brought separate actions against Regions and Fidelity, alleging claims arising from the decedent's transfer of his entire retirement savings account to his sister before his death. The Eleventh Circuit held that the district court properly granted Fidelity's Rule 12(b)(6) motion regarding the Count III breach of contract and Count IV breach of fiduciary duty claims; vacated the district court's Rule 12(b)(1) dismissals of the Count II Georgia UCC claims in both complaints because those rulings were incapable of meaningful review; and affirmed the district court's dismissal of the Count I common law conversion and Count II common law negligence claims because they were preempted by Georgia Code 11-3-420. View "Estate of David Bass v. Regions Bank, Inc." on Justia Law