Justia Banking Opinion Summaries

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In the case before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, Yagoub Mohamed, a self-employed mechanic, sued Bank of America, alleging that the bank's conduct and error-claim procedures violated the federal Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA) and various state laws. Mohamed had applied for unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic and was found eligible to receive $14,644, which he elected to receive via a Bank of America-issued debit card. However, by the time he received and activated his card, the entire benefit amount had been spent on transactions he did not recognize. The bank opened an error claim and later froze his account due to possible fraud.The district court granted Bank of America's motion to dismiss Mohamed's federal claim, stating that the unemployment benefits he was to receive via a prepaid debit card were not protected by the EFTA. The court did not exercise jurisdiction over the state-law claims.On appeal, the Fourth Circuit vacated the judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings. The court held that the account in which Mohamed's benefits were held qualified as a "government benefit account" under the EFTA and its implementing regulations. As such, the court concluded that Mohamed had stated a claim under the Act. The court rejected the bank's arguments that it had established the account in question, asserting that the account was established by the state of Maryland, and the bank acted solely under its contract with the state.The court's holding is significant because it clarifies the scope of protection offered by the EFTA for government benefits distributed via prepaid debit cards, and it underlines the responsibilities of banks in managing such accounts. View "Mohamed v. Bank of America, N.A." on Justia Law

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In the case before the Supreme Court of the State of Alaska, MJ Corporation, the owner of an automated teller machine (ATM), sued Societe Financial, LLC, an ATM processor, and its owner, James Dainis, for breach of contract, conversion, and for piercing the corporate veil. MJ Corp. alleged that it had not been receiving its full share of transaction fees and reimbursement for vault cash dispensed by the ATM as per their agreement.The court reversed summary judgment on the breach of contract claim and piercing the corporate veil, as the processor presented genuine issues of material fact pertaining to those claims. The court held that while MJ Corp. presented admissible evidence of an implied contract and breach of the same, Dainis's affidavit raised a genuine dispute of material fact regarding the damages, thus barring summary judgment on the breach of contract claim.The court affirmed the superior court’s decision to grant summary judgment on the conversion claim. It found that MJ Corp. satisfied its prima facie burden for summary judgment, and Societe's evidence was too conclusory to present a genuine dispute of material fact regarding conversion.Regarding the claim to pierce the corporate veil, the court found that there was insufficient evidence on summary judgment to hold Dainis personally liable or to pierce the corporate veils of Societe's subsidiary company and another company owned by Dainis. The case was remanded for further proceedings in line with the court's opinion. View "Societe Financial, LLC v. MJ Corporation" on Justia Law

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The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled in favor of the United States in a case involving civil penalties for failure to file a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR). The defendant, James J. Kelly Jr., was a U.S. citizen who had a bank account in Switzerland with a balance exceeding $10,000, which required him to file an FBAR with the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Failure to do so risks civil penalties. The government sued Kelly for willfully failing to timely file FBARs for 2013, 2014, and 2015. The district court granted summary judgment to the government.The Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court's decision, finding that Kelly's failure to comply with his FBAR obligations was reckless, if not knowing. The court argued that Kelly had taken steps to intentionally evade his legal duties and acted with objective recklessness. Despite being aware of his FBAR obligations and participating in the IRS Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP), Kelly failed to ensure that the FBARs were submitted. His failure to consult with any professionals about his tax obligations and his considerable efforts to keep his account secret were further evidence of his willful violation of the Bank Secrecy Act. Thus, the court concluded that Kelly's failure to satisfy his FBAR requirements for the years 2013, 2014, and 2015 was a willful violation of the Bank Secrecy Act. View "United States v. Kelly" on Justia Law

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This case concerns a foreclosure proceeding related to a property in Bristol, Rhode Island. The plaintiff, Steven Serenska, obtained a mortgage from Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. and defaulted on his payments. Wells Fargo and HSBC Bank USA, National Association as Trustee, initiated foreclosure proceedings. The plaintiff filed a complaint, alleging that there was an ambiguity in the mortgage document and that he had not received proper notice before the foreclosure.The Supreme Court of Rhode Island held that there was no ambiguity in the mortgage contract. The court found that the notice of default sent to the plaintiff strictly complied with the requirements of the mortgage agreement. The court noted that the plaintiff's alleged prejudice (claiming he would have paid the sum due had he received notice of the deadline for reinstating the mortgage) was irrelevant in this context. The court also found that an issue raised by the plaintiff on appeal (concerning additional language in the notice of default) was not properly presented before the lower court and was therefore waived.The court thus affirmed the order of the Superior Court granting the defendants' motions to dismiss the plaintiff's complaint. View "Serenska v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

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The Indiana Supreme Court heard a case involving a dispute between Tonia Land and the IU Credit Union (IUCU). When Land became a customer at the credit union, she was given an account agreement that could be modified at any time. Later, when she registered for online banking, she accepted another agreement that allowed the IUCU to modify the terms and conditions of the services. In 2019, the IUCU proposed changes to these agreements, which would require disputes to be resolved through arbitration and prevent Land from initiating or participating in a class-action lawsuit. Land did not opt out of these changes within thirty days as required, which, according to the IUCU, made the terms binding. However, Land later filed a class-action lawsuit against the credit union, which attempted to compel arbitration based on the addendum.The court held that while the IUCU did provide Land with reasonable notice of its offer to amend the original agreements, Land's subsequent silence and inaction did not result in her assent to that offer, according to Section 69 of the Restatement (Second) of Contracts. The credit union petitioned for rehearing, claiming that the court failed to address certain legal authorities and arguments raised on appeal and in the transfer proceedings.Upon rehearing, the court affirmed its original decision, rejecting the credit union's arguments. However, the court also expressed a willingness to consider a different standard governing the offer and acceptance of unilateral contracts between businesses and consumers in future cases. The court found no merit in the credit union's arguments on rehearing and affirmed its original opinion in full. View "Land v. IU Credit Union" on Justia Law

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A group of 18 pension and retirement funds and other investors alleged that 10 large banks conspired to rig U.S. Treasury auctions and boycott the emergence of direct, "all-to-all" trading between buy-side investors on the secondary market for Treasuries. The alleged conspiracies violated Section 1 of the Sherman Act. The investors failed to demonstrate that the banks formed an anticompetitive agreement, which is necessary to plead their antitrust claims. The allegations of wrongful information-sharing amounted to inconsequential market chatter and their statistical analyses were not sufficiently focused on the defendant banks. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the lawsuit, agreeing that the investors failed to plausibly allege that the banks engaged in a conspiracy to rig Treasury auctions or to conduct a boycott on the secondary market. View "In re Treasury Securities Auction Antitrust Litigation" on Justia Law

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In 2006, Ronald A. Gosset borrowed $275,000 against his property, which he owned as a joint tenant with his daughters, Mellissa and Verity Gosset. Both daughters signed the mortgage but not the underlying note. When Ronald Gosset passed away and the loan was in default, The Bank of New York Mellon, as the current note and mortgage holder, moved for summary judgment and for permission to conduct a foreclosure sale on the property. The defendants argued that they were not in default since they never signed the note and bore no financial obligations to the plaintiff. Moreover, they contended that the claims against their deceased father couldn't be addressed until a representative for his estate was appointed.The Supreme Court of Rhode Island held that the plaintiff presented uncontested evidence demonstrating it is the holder of the note and mortgage, and that the note is currently in default. Furthermore, under the terms of the mortgage, the mortgage itself is also in default. The defendants, who are referred to as "Borrowers" in the mortgage, failed to present evidence challenging these assertions. Consequently, the court affirmed the judgment of the Superior Court, ruling that there were no genuine issues of material fact and the plaintiff is entitled to conduct a foreclosure sale on the property securing its promissory note. The court clarified that the judgment does not provide for an award of damages against any defendant, it only authorizes the plaintiff to foreclose its mortgage. View "The Bank of New York Mellon v. Gosset" on Justia Law

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In South Carolina, Phillip Francis Luke Hughes, on behalf of the estate of his late mother, Jane Hughes, sued Bank of America for fraud, fraudulent concealment, and breach of contract, alleging that the bank charged insurance premiums in connection with a home equity line of credit his parents obtained in 2006, even though they declined the insurance offer. The bank argued that the claims did not survive Jane Hughes's death, were barred by res judicata and the statute of limitations, and that their motion for sanctions was not premature.The Supreme Court of South Carolina held that the claims for fraud and fraudulent concealment survived Jane Hughes's death. However, it also held that all three claims were barred by the res judicata effect of rulings in related federal court litigation. The court affirmed as modified in part and reversed in part the lower court's decision. The court also affirmed the lower court's decision that the sanctions motion was not premature. The court further held that the claim for breach of contract accompanied by a fraudulent act survived Jane Hughes's death, but was also barred by res judicata.As for the statute of limitations issue, the court held that the statute of limitations had expired before the action was commenced and that the plaintiff was precluded from relitigating the equitable tolling issue. The court remanded Bank of America's sanctions motion to the lower court for disposition. View "Hughes v. Bank of America" on Justia Law

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In the case before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, the dispute involved U.S. Bank, N.A. (the Bank) and Charles D. Finch. The Bank had a mortgage on Finch's property due to a loan he had taken out. When Finch defaulted on the loan, the Bank initiated foreclosure proceedings. However, the Superior Court ruled in favor of Finch, finding that the Bank's notice of default did not comply with the requirements of the Maine foreclosure statute, specifically 14 M.R.S. § 6111. Following this, Finch asked the court to rule that the Bank's mortgage was unenforceable and to order the Bank to discharge the mortgage. The court agreed with Finch, citing the Maine Supreme Judicial Court's decision in Pushard v. Bank of America.The Bank appealed this decision, arguing that the Pushard decision should be overturned, and that even if it cannot foreclose on the property, it should not be required to discharge the mortgage.The Maine Supreme Judicial Court, revisiting its decision in Pushard, determined that a lender cannot accelerate a loan balance or commence a foreclosure action without having the statutory and contractual right to do so. This effectively overruled the holding in Pushard that a lender could accelerate the note balance by filing a foreclosure action, even if they lacked the statutory right to do so.The court found that when a lender fails to prove it has issued a valid notice of default or that the borrower breached the contract, the parties are returned to the positions they held before the filing of the action. Therefore, a subsequent foreclosure action based on a different notice of default and a different allegation of default would assert a different claim and would not be barred.The court ultimately vacated the judgment requiring the Bank to discharge the mortgage and remanded the case for entry of a judgment in the Bank's favor on Finch's complaint. The judgment dismissing the Bank's unjust enrichment counterclaim was affirmed. The court concluded that while a lender must strictly comply with the statutory notice requirements in a foreclosure action, a borrower is not automatically entitled to a "free house" if the lender makes a mistake in the notice of default. View "Finch v. U.S. Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

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In this case, the defendant, Patrick Thompson, was convicted of making false statements about his loans to financial institutions. Thompson took out three loans from a bank totaling $219,000. After the bank failed, its receiver, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and a loan servicer, Planet Home, attempted to recoup the money owed by Thompson. However, Thompson disputed the loan balance, insisting that he had only borrowed $110,000. He was subsequently charged with and convicted of making false statements to influence the FDIC and a mortgage lending business, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1014.On appeal, Thompson argued that his statements were not “false” under § 1014 because they were literally true, and that the jury lacked sufficient evidence to convict him. He also claimed that the government constructively amended the indictment and that the district court lacked the authority to order him to pay restitution to the FDIC.The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit rejected Thompson's arguments and affirmed the lower court's judgment. The court held that under its precedent, § 1014 criminalizes misleading representations, and Thompson's statements were misleading. The court also found that there was sufficient evidence to support Thompson's conviction and that the indictment was not constructively amended. Finally, the court held that the district court properly awarded restitution to the FDIC, as the FDIC had suffered a financial loss as a direct and proximate result of Thompson's false statements. View "USA v. Thompson" on Justia Law