Justia Banking Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Constitutional Law
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This summary judgment matter arose from a petition for declaratory judgment seeking a declaration (amongst other things) that defendant First Guaranty Bank (the “Bank”) applied an incorrect interest rate and thus miscalculated the principal owed on a Promissory Note executed by borrower-petitioner Leisure Recreation & Entertainment, Inc. (“Leisure”) in favor of the Bank in December 1991 (the “Note”). The Louisiana Supreme Court granted Leisure’s writ application to determine whether the court of appeal erred in applying the “voluntary payment doctrine” to hold that Leisure was estopped from recovering payments voluntarily made, regardless of whether owed. In addition, the Court reviewed whether the court of appeal erred in determining the Note presented an alternative obligation as to the Prime Rate interest structure for years 11 through 30 of its repayment, whether it erred in imposing its own interest rate structure during that period, and whether the Bank’s prescription arguments preclude Leisure’s recovery of any interest paid and not due between 2001 and 2013. Finding the “voluntary payment doctrine” contravened the Louisiana Civil Code, the Supreme Court reversed the court of appeal insofar as it: (1) reversed the portion of the district court’s judgment denying the motion for summary judgment filed by the Bank as to the voluntary payment affirmative defense; (2) dismissed Leisure’s claim for declaratory relief as to the interest it voluntary paid the Bank between 2001 and 2013; and (3) rendered judgment ordering the Bank to repay Leisure “any overcharge of interest in excess of the prime rate that Leisure paid on the [Note] since the filing of its suit on October 7, 2013, together with interest thereon from the date of judicial demand until paid.” Finding that the Note set forth an “alternative obligation,” the Supreme Court reversed the court of appeal insofar as it: (1) reversed the district court decree that Leisure was entitled to select the Prime Rate structure pursuant to La. C.C. art. 1810; and (2) reversed the district court’s declaration that Leisure paid all indebtedness owed to the Bank on the Note as of June 28, 2015, and was owed return of all amounts paid thereafter. The case was remanded to the court of appeal for consideration of the Bank’s arguments on appeal that were pretermitted by the court of appeal opinion and were not in conflict with the Supreme Court's opinion. View "Leisure Recreation & Entertainment, Inc. v. First Guaranty Bank" on Justia Law

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TitleMax provides vehicle loans at interest rates as high as 180%. The entire process occurs at a TitleMax brick-and-mortar location. The borrower receives “a check drawn on a bank outside of Pennsylvania,” The borrower grants TitleMax a security interest in the vehicle. TitleMax records its lien with the appropriate state authority. Borrowers can make payments from their home states. TitleMax does not have any offices, employees, agents, or brick-and-mortar stores and is not licensed as a lender in Pennsylvania. TitleMax claims that it never solicited Pennsylvania business and does not run television ads within Pennsylvania.Pursuant to the Consumer Discount Company Act and the Loan Interest and Protection Law, Pennsylvania’s Department of Banking and Securities issued a subpoena requesting documents regarding TitleMax’s interactions with Pennsylvania residents. TitleMax then stopped making loans to Pennsylvania residents and asserts that it has lost revenue.The district court held that Younger abstention did not apply and that the Department’s subpoena’s effect was to apply Pennsylvania’s usury laws extraterritorially in violation of the Commerce Clause.The Third Circuit reversed. Applying the Pennsylvania statutes to TitleMax does not violate the extraterritoriality principle. TitleMax receives payments from within Pennsylvania and maintains an actionable security interest in vehicles located in Pennsylvania; its conduct is not “wholly outside” of Pennsylvania. The laws do not discriminate between in-staters and out-of-staters. Pennsylvania has a strong interest in prohibiting usury. Applying Pennsylvania’s usury laws to TitleMax’s loans furthers that interest and any resulting burden on interstate commerce is, at most, incidental. View "TitleMax of Delaware Inc v. Weissmann" on Justia Law

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The Superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) filed suit against the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the U.S. Comptroller of the Currency (together, the "OCC"), challenging the OCC's decision to begin accepting applications for special-purpose national bank (SPNB) charters from financial technology companies (fintechs) engaged in the "business of banking," including those that do not accept deposits. The district court ultimately entered judgment in favor of DFS, setting aside OCC's decision.The Second Circuit reversed, concluding that DFS lacks Article III standing because it failed to allege that OCC's decision caused it to suffer an actual or imminent injury in fact. The court explained that the Fintech Charter Decision has not implicated the sorts of direct preemption concerns that animated DFS's cited cases, and it will not do so until OCC receives an SPNB charter application from or grants such a charter to a non-depository fintech that would otherwise be subject to DFS's jurisdiction. The court was also unpersuaded that DFS faces a substantial risk of suffering its second alleged future injury—that it will lose revenue acquired through annual assessments. Because DFS failed to adequately allege that it has Article III standing to bring its Administrative Procedure Act claims against OCC, those claims must be dismissed without prejudice.The court also found that DFS's claims are constitutionally unripe for substantially the same reason. Finally, the court lacked jurisdiction to decide the remaining issues on appeal. Accordingly, the court remanded to the district court with instructions to enter a judgment of dismissal without prejudice. View "Lacewell v. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's order denying the Bank's motion for judgment on the pleadings. The court held that state legislatures may create legally protected interests whose violation supports Article III standing, subject to certain federal limitations. The court also decided that the New York law violations alleged here constitute a concrete and particularized harm to plaintiffs in the form of both reputational injury and limitations in borrowing capacity over the nearly ten-month period during which their mortgage discharge was unlawfully not recorded and in which the Bank allowed the public record to reflect, falsely, that plaintiffs had an outstanding debt of over $50,000.The court further concluded that the Bank's failure to record plaintiffs' mortgage discharge created a material risk of concrete and particularized harm to plaintiffs by providing a basis for an unfavorable credit rating and reduced borrowing capacity. The court explained that these risks and interests, in addition to that of clouded title, which an ordinary mortgagor would have suffered (but plaintiffs did not), are similar to those protected by traditional actions at law. Therefore, plaintiffs have Article III standing and they may pursue their claims for the statutory penalties imposed by the New York Legislature, as well as other relief. Accordingly, the court affirmed and remanded. View "Maddox v. Bank of New York Mellon Trust Co." on Justia Law

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The National Credit Union Administration Board ("NCUAB"), the self-appointed conservator of Citizens Community Credit Union ("Citizens"), repudiated a letter of credit Citizens issued to Granite Re, Inc. Granite filed a complaint for damages against the NCUAB, claiming wrongful repudiation and wrongful dishonor of a letter of credit. The NCUAB moved to dismiss with prejudice, arguing 12 U.S.C. 1787(c) authorized it to repudiate the letter of credit with no liability for damages, and section 1787(c) preempted conflicting North Dakota Law. The district court agreed and dismissed the complaint. The Eighth Circuit determined that were it to adopt the NCUAB's construction of section 1787(c), the NCUAB could "quietly appoint itself conservator and repudiate letters of credit with no liability to the injured beneficiary. Absent the ability to predict an impending conservatorship, a clean letter-of-credit beneficiary like Granite is subject to repudiation with no recourse." The Court determined NCUAB's construction was inconsistent with the language of the statue, which provided a limited remedy for damages determinable at the point of conservatorship, but did not negate recovery entirely. The Court also determined it was premature to declare section 1787(c) preempted North Dakota law. The Court reversed the trial court's judgment and remanded for further proceedings. View "Granite Re, Inc. v. Nat'l Credit Union Adm. Board" on Justia Law

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Shareholders filed suit against the Agencies after the FHFA placed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in conservatorship. In 2012, FHFA and Treasury adopted a Third Amendment to their financing agreements wherein Fannie and Freddie give Treasury nearly all their net worth each quarter as a dividend. Shareholders contend that the arrangement exceeded FHFA's statutory powers and that FHFA lacked authority to adopt the Third Amendment.The court held that shareholders plausibly alleged that the Third Amendment exceeded FHFA’s conservator powers by transferring Fannie and Freddie’s future value to a single shareholder, Treasury. Therefore, a majority of the en banc court held that this claim survived dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). A majority of the en banc court held that the Director's "for cause" removal protection was unconstitutional and therefore FHFA lacked authority to adopt the Third Amendment. The court explained that FHFA's design, an independent agency with a single Director removable only "for cause," violates the separation of powers. Finally, a different majority of the en banc court held that prospective relief was the proper remedy. Accordingly, the court reversed in part, affirmed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Collilns v. Mnuchin" on Justia Law

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DLC filed a 42 U.SC. 1983 action against defendant, the Director of the South Dakota Division of Banking, alleging that license revocation without a pre-deprivation hearing deprived DLC of its procedural due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. On appeal, defendant challenged the district court's denial of absolute or qualified immunity and its decision that the quick action exception to a pre-deprivation hearing was not applicable.The Eighth Circuit reversed, holding that defendant was entitled to qualified immunity because DLC failed to show a violation of a constitutional right that was clearly established. The court held that there was no procedural due process violation where DLC was on notice that the Division was investigating the lawfulness of its new loan product, DLC was afforded an opportunity to provide additional information addressing the Division's concerns, and the revocation order had no more of an effect on DLC's business than the simultaneously issued cease and desist order. View "Dollar Loan Center of South Dakota, LLC v. Afdahl" on Justia Law

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The Federal Reserve Act of 1913 established a system that includes the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and 12 regional Reserve Banks. The Board exercises broad regulatory supervision over the Reserve Banks, which serve as banks to the U.S. government and to commercial banks who are members of the Federal Reserve System. The Act set the statutory rate for dividend payments on Federal Reserve Bank stock at six percent per year, which remained in effect until 2016, when an amendment (12 U.S.C. 289(a)(1)) effectively reduced the dividend rate for certain stockholder banks to a lower variable rate. Plaintiffs argued that banks that subscribed to Reserve Bank stock before the amendment are entitled to dividends at the six percent rate and that, by paying dividends at the amended rate, the government breached a contractual duty or effected a Fifth Amendment taking. The Federal Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit. There is no “clear indication” of the government’s intent to contract in either the language of the Federal Reserve Act or the circumstances of its passage. Plaintiffs did not allege a legally cognizable property interest arising from its “statutory rights” and the requirement that member banks subscribe to reserve bank stock under the Act does not constitute a regulatory taking. View "American Bankers Association v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the circuit court’s judgment and decree of foreclosure finding in favor of Bank and against Appellant on his counterclaims against Bank and his third-party complaint against the former vice president of commercial lending at Bank (“VP”). The court held (1) the circuit court erred in failing to submit Appellant’s legal counterclaims and third-party claims to the jury; (2) the circuit court erred in granting Bank and VP’s motion to strike Appellant’s jury trial demand based on a predispute jury-waiver clause contained in the loan agreement; and (3) Marvell Light & Ice Co. v. General Electric Co., 259 S.W. 741 (1924), is overruled to the extent that it holds that there is a per se new business rule preventing lost profits unless the business is an old business. View "Tilley v. Malvern National Bank" on Justia Law

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This case arose from an allegedly forged home-equity loan. Plaintiff sued the lenders, bringing several claims, including statutory fraud and violations of the Texas Finance Code and Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The trial court granted summary judgment for the lenders without stating its reasons. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part, holding that the court of appeals (1) properly affirmed summary judgment on Plaintiff’s constitutional forfeiture claim; and (2) erred in holding that Plaintiff’s remaining claims were barred on statute of limitations and waiver grounds. View "Kyle v. Strasburger" on Justia Law