Justia Banking Opinion Summaries

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Borrower took out a $5.6 million dollar bridge loan, with 8.5% interest per annum, secured by a deed of trust on real property. They defaulted on a monthly payment of $39,667, triggering late fee provisions: a one-time 10% fee assessed against the overdue payment ($3,967) and a default interest charge of 9.99% per annum assessed against the total unpaid principal balance. Borrower filed a demand for arbitration, alleging the loan was in violation of Business & Professions Code 10240 and the late fee was an unlawful penalty in violation of section 1671. The arbitrator rejected both claims and denied the demand for arbitration. Borrower petitioned to vacate the decision, arguing that the arbitrator exceeded their authority by denying claims in violation of “nonwaivable statutory rights and/or contravention of explicit legislative expressions of public policy.”The court of appeal reversed the denial of that petition. The trial court erroneously failed to vacate an award that constitutes an unlawful penalty in contravention of public policy set forth in section 1671. Liquidated damages in the form of a penalty assessed during the lifetime of a partially matured note against the entire outstanding loan amount are unlawful penalties. There is no precedent upholding a liquidated damages provision where a borrower missed a single installment and then was penalized pursuant to such a provision. View "Honchariw v. FJM Private Mortgage Fund, LLC" on Justia Law

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NJBA, a non-profit trade association representing 88 New Jersey banks, sought to make independent expenditures and contributions to political parties and campaigns for state and local offices. NJBA has not made these payments because of N.J. Stats. 19:34-45, which provides that, “[n]o corporation carrying on the business of a bank . . . shall pay or contribute money or thing of value in order to aid or promote the nomination or election of any person, or in order to aid or promote the interests, success or defeat of any political party.” NJBA brought a facial challenge on its own behalf and on behalf of third-party banks.The district court held that section 19:34-45’s prohibition on independent expenditures violates the First Amendment but that the ban on political contributions by certain corporations does not violate the First Amendment and passes intermediate scrutiny. The Third Circuit reversed, declining to address the First Amendment issues. The statute does not apply to trade associations of banks. NJBA is not “carrying on the business of a bank.” With respect to the facial challenge, NJBA does not satisfy the narrow exception to the general rule against third-party standing. View "New Jersey Bankers Association v. Attorney General New Jersey" on Justia Law

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Lutz received a Capital One credit card, made purchases, and obtained cash advances with the card. Under the credit card agreement, Lutz could make minimum installment payments with interest at an annual rate of up to 22.90% on any unpaid monthly balance. His account balance rose to $2,343.76, including at least $341.67 in interest that had accrued at an annual rate of 22.90%. When Lutz failed to pay, Capital One sold the charged-off account to PRA, which is not a bank and cannot issue credit cards. PRA holds a license from the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities to make motor vehicle loans and to charge interest at 18-21% on those loans but PRA’s sole business involves purchasing defaulted consumer debt at a discount and then attempting to collect the debt. PRA obtained a default judgment against Lutz.Lutz filed a putative class action against PRA under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. 1692e, 1692f, alleging that PRA made false statements about debt and attempted to collect a debt not permitted by law, citing alleged violations of Pennsylvania’s Consumer Discount Company Act. The Third Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit. Lutz did not plausibly allege that Pennsylvania law prohibited PRA from collecting interest that had previously accrued at greater than 6% annually. PRA is not in the business of negotiating loans or advances and is not subject to the CDCA and its limitations on collecting interest. View "Lutz v. Portfolio Recovery Associates LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs in two putative class actions took out home mortgage loans from Bank of America, N.A. (“BOA”), one before and the other after the effective date of certain provisions of the DoddFrank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“DoddFrank”). The loan agreements, which were governed by the laws of New York, required Plaintiffs to deposit money in escrow accounts for property taxes and insurance payments for each mortgaged property. When BOA paid no interest on the escrowed amounts, Plaintiffs sued for breach of contract, claiming that they were entitled to interest under New York General Obligations Law Section 5-601, which sets a minimum 2% interest rate on mortgage escrow accounts. BOA moved to dismiss on the ground that GOL Section 5-601 does not apply to mortgage loans made by federally chartered banks because, as applied to such banks, it is preempted by the National Bank Act of 1864 (“NBA”). The district court disagreed and denied the motion.   The Second Circuit reversed and remanded. The court held that (1) New York’s interest-on-escrow law is preempted by the NBA under the “ordinary legal principles of pre-emption,” Barnett Bank of Marion Cnty., N.A. v. Nelson, 517 U.S. 25, 37 (1996), and (2) the Dodd-Frank Act does not change this analysis. GOL Section 5-601 thus did not require BOA to pay a minimum rate of interest, and Plaintiffs have alleged no facts supporting a claim that interest is due. View "Cantero v. Bank of Am., N.A." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court in favor of Barbara and Alexis Branch on the Central Trust Bank's petition for a deficiency judgment in relation to a promissory note and security agreement financing the Branches' vehicle, holding that the circuit court erred.The Bank's pre-sale notice of disposition in this case stated the vehicle would be sold at a private sale. The circuit court, however, held that the dealer-sonly auction at which the vehicle was sold was a public sale and that the Bank failed to provide the Branches with "reasonable notification" after the sale of the vehicle. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the circuit court's finding that the Branches did not receive any pre-sale notice of the disposition was not supported by substantial evidence; and (2) the circuit court misstated the law when it required the Bank to provide the Branches with "reasonable notification" of the sale of the collateral. View "Central Trust Bank v. Branch" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Citibank, N.A, the Administrative Agent for the lenders on a $1.8 billion seven-year syndicated loan to Revlon Inc., appeals from the judgment of the district court in favor of Defendants, the Loan Managers for certain lenders, who received and refused to return  Citibank’s accidental, unintended early repayment of the loan. The district court, after a bench trial, relying on Banque Worms v. BankAmerica International, 570 N.E.2d 189 (N.Y. 1991), ruled that the rule of discharge for value provided a defense against Citibank’s suit for restitution.   The Second Circuit vacated the district court’s ruling. The court held because the Defendants had notice of the mistake and because the lenders were not entitled to repayment at the time, the rule of Banque Worms does not protect the Defendants. The court explained that the Court of Appeals’ specified requirement of entitlement to the money, combined with the cases it cited as precedents for the rule, and its continued espousal of New York’s general rule that mistaken payments should be returned, lead the court to conclude that, in New York, a creditor may not invoke the discharge-for-value rule unless the debt at issue is presently payable. Here, the debt on which Citibank mistakenly made a payment was not due for another three years. As a result, Defendants may not invoke the discharge-for-value rule as a shield against Citibank’s claims for restitution. View "In re: Citibank August 11, 2020" on Justia Law

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OneMain, a non-bank finance company, loaned Zirpoli $6,200.08, to be repaid at a rate of 26.91% (total $11,364.35). The loan was issued under the Consumer Discount Company Act (CDCA), a consumer protection statute, which creates an exception to Pennsylvania’s usury law. The loan is governed by a disclosure statement, a security agreement, and an arbitration agreement. Later, OneMain sold delinquent accounts to Midland, including Zirpoli’s loan. Midland sued Zirpoli but later dismissed the suit and undertook collection efforts.Zirpoli filed a class action, alleging that Midland’s collection activities constituted an unlawful attempt to collect the loan because Midland does not have a CDCA license and never obtained nor requested approval from the Department of Banking. Midland was, therefore, not lawfully permitted to purchase the loan. Midland moved to compel arbitration. The court denied the motion, focusing on the validity of the assignment from OneMain and Midland. The Third Circuit vacated. The ultimate illegality of a contract does not automatically negate the parties’ agreement that an arbitrator should resolve disputes arising from the contract. The parties to the loan clearly agreed to arbitrate the issue of arbitrability. The arbitration agreement provides that an arbitrator shall resolve the arbitrability of defenses to enforcement, including alleged violations of state usury laws. View "Zirpoli v. Midland Funding LLC" on Justia Law

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Appellants lost over $850,000 when an alleged BB&T employee and a co-conspirator impersonated them, changed their passwords, and transferred the money out of their BB&T bank accounts. Appellants sued BB&T under contract and tort theories. The district court dismissed the tort claims as duplicative of the contract claim, concluding that Appellants’ demand was time-barred because BB&T’s standard bank account contract limited the time to assert a demand from the statutory one-year period to just 30 days. In the alternative, the district court entered summary judgment for BB&T because it concluded the bank had and had followed commercially reasonable security procedures.The Eleventh Circuit vacated (1) the district court’s order dismissing the complaint and (2) the district court’s order entering summary judgment for BB&T on the remaining counts in the Fourth Amended Complaint, finding, as a matter of law, that Appellants’ claim for statutory repayment is not time-barred. View "Jesus Alonso Alvarez Rodriguez, et al v. Branch Banking & Trust Company, et al" on Justia Law

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A federal district court decision in a declaratory judgment action that an insurance policy issued by Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s, London (“Underwriters”) covered certain negligent actions undertaken by the former directors and officers of Omni National Bank (“Omni”) during the 2008 banking crisis. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”), acting in Omni’s name as Omni’s receiver, demanded payment and prejudgment interest from Underwriters under the insurance policy for a stipulated judgment previously entered against three of Omni’s former directors and officers for $10 million, the limit of Underwriters’ insurance policy. Underwriters paid the $10 million once the Supreme Court denied certiorari for its appeal from the declaratory judgment but refused to pay prejudgment interest, causing the FDIC to institute this action.   On appeal, the FDIC argues that demands for prejudgment interest are timely under Georgia law so long as they are made before the entry of a coercive final judgment, which declaratory judgments are not. The Eleventh Circuit agreed, concluding that the district court erred by granting summary judgment for Underwriters. Accordingly, the court remanded for the determination of when prejudgment interest began to run.   The court explained that Underwriters’ argument that it lacked a full and fair opportunity to litigate the issue of prejudgment interest, as Section 9–11–54(c)(1) requires, is false on its face. This entire lawsuit has been dedicated to extensively litigating prejudgment interest. Further, the court held that FDIC’s claim is not barred. View "Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's of London" on Justia Law

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These consolidated cases, on appeal from a judgment of the district court, present competing claims to a blocked electronic funds transfer. The parties are the United States, which blocked the transaction because terrorists initiated it. On the other side are victims of Iran-sponsored terrorism who have obtained multimillion-dollar judgments against the Iranian government.   After learning of the government’s forfeiture action, attorneys for two groups of victims of Iranian terrorism and their relatives, holding judgments against Iran, filed separate writs of attachment. Plaintiffs sought to attach the funds at Wells Fargo pursuant to two federal statutes. The first, 28 U.S.C. Section 1610(g) of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (“FSIA”). The second is Section 201(a) of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002 (“TRIA”).   The district court ruled that Iran lacked any property interest in the blocked funds held by Wells Fargo. The court, therefore, quashed Plaintiffs’ writs of attachment. The DC Circuit court reversed and remanded. The court explained that tracing resolves this case in Plaintiffs’ favor. The government admits that the $9.98 million blocked funds at Wells Fargo “are traceable to Taif” and thus to Iran. The premise of the government’s forfeiture action is that the funds are traceable to Iran. The district court, therefore, erred in concluding that Plaintiffs had failed to show that the blocked funds were, under Section 201(a) of the TRIA, the blocked assets of [a] terrorist party. View "Estate of Jeremy I. Levin v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A." on Justia Law