Justia Banking Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Constitutional Law
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In this case, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit addressed a dispute involving the owners of two parcels of real estate in Chicago who contended that banks tried to collect notes and mortgages that belonged to different financial institutions. The state judiciary had ruled that the banks were entitled to foreclose on both parcels, but the properties had not yet been sold and no final judgments defining the debt were in place. The plaintiffs attempted to initiate federal litigation under the holding of Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Industries Corp., arguing that their case was still pending. However, the district court dismissed the case, citing the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, which states that only the Supreme Court of the United States can review the judgments of state courts in civil suits.The Appeals court held that the application of the Rooker-Feldman doctrine was incorrect in this case because the foreclosure litigation in Illinois was not yet "final". According to the court, the foreclosure process in Illinois continues until the property is sold, the sale is confirmed, and the court either enters a deficiency judgment or distributes the surplus. Since these steps had not occurred, the plaintiffs had not yet "lost the war", and thus parallel state and federal litigation could be pursued as per Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Industries Corp.However, by the time the district court dismissed this suit, the state litigation about one parcel was over because a sale had occurred and been confirmed, and by the time the Appeals court heard oral argument that was true for the second parcel as well. The Appeals court stated that Illinois law forbids sequential litigation about the same claim even when the plaintiff in the second case offers novel arguments. The court found that the plaintiffs could have presented their constitutional arguments in the state court system and were not free to shift what is effectively an appellate argument to a different judicial system.The court also noted that Joel Chupack, the lead defendant, was the trial judge in the state case and was not a party to either state case. He did not claim the benefit of preclusion. Judge Chupack was found to be entitled to absolute immunity from damages, as he acted in a judicial capacity.The judgment of the district court was modified to reflect a dismissal with prejudice rather than a dismissal for lack of jurisdiction, and as so modified it was affirmed. View "Bryant v. Chupack" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court overruling Appellants' motion to vacate the court's order appointing a receiver for Appellants, holding that the petition filed by Patriots Bank seeking the appointment of a receiver pursuant to the Missouri Commercial Receivership Act (MCRA), Mo. Rev. Stat. 515.500-515.665, did not violate due process.Bank entered into lending relationships with Appellants, all of which defaulted. Bank filed a petition seeking the appointment of a receiver for Appellants. The circuit court entered the receiver order. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Bank complied with the plain language of the MCRA's notice requirement; (2) the application of the MCRA to Appellants' case did not violate the due process protections under either the state or federal constitutions; (3) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in overruling Appellants' motion to vacate the receiver order; and (4) the receiver order did not violate the MCRA. View "Black River Motel, LLC v. Patriots Bank" on Justia Law

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An Ohio tax lien on real property is enforced through a foreclosure action, which may result in a sale of the property at auction. If such a sale occurs and the price exceeds the amount of the lien, the excess funds may go to junior lienholders or the owner. If the tax-delinquent property is abandoned, an auction may not be required; the property may be transferred directly to a land bank, free of liens. When that happens, the county gives up its right to collect the tax debt, and any junior lienholders and the owner get nothing. The properties at issue were transferred directly to county land banks. US Bank owned one foreclosed property and claims to have held mortgages on the other two. US Bank alleges that at the time of the transfers, the fair market value of each property was greater than the associated tax lien and that the transfers to the land banks constituted takings without just compensation.The Supreme Court of Ohio affirmed the dismissals of the suits. US Bank lacks standing in one case; it did not hold the mortgage at the time of the alleged taking. As to the other properties, US Bank had adequate remedies in the ordinary course of the law. It could have redeemed the properties by paying the taxes; it could have sought transfers of the foreclosure actions from the boards of revision to the common pleas courts; it could have appealed the foreclosure adjudications to those courts. View "US Bank Trust, National Association v. Cuyahoga County" 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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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