Justia Banking Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Government & Administrative Law
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Wilmington Trust financed construction projects. Extensions were commonplace. Wilmington’s loan documents reserved its right to “renew or extend (repeatedly and for any length of time) this loan . . . without the consent of or notice to anyone.” Wilmington’s internal policy did not classify all mature loans with unpaid principals as past due if the loans were in the process of renewal and interest payments were current, Following the 2008 "Great Recession," Wilmington excluded some of the loans from those it reported as “past due” to the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Reserve. Wilmington’s executives maintained that, under a reasonable interpretation of the reporting requirements, the exclusion of the loans from the “past due” classification was proper. The district court denied their requests to introduce evidence concerning or instruct the jury about that alternative interpretation. The jury found the reporting constituted “false statements” under 18 U.S.C. 1001 and 15 U.S.C. 78m, and convicted the executives.The Third Circuit reversed in part. To prove falsity beyond a reasonable doubt in this situation, the government must prove either that its interpretation of the reporting requirement is the only objectively reasonable interpretation or that the defendant’s statement was also false under the alternative, objectively reasonable interpretation. The court vacated and remanded the conspiracy and securities fraud convictions, which were charged in the alternative on an independent theory of liability, View "United States v. Harra" on Justia Law

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Quail's 47,480-square-foot unincorporated Sonoma County property contained two houses, garages, and several outbuildings. In 2013, a building with hazardous and unpermitted electrical wiring, hazardous decking and stairs, unpermitted kitchens and plumbing, broken windows, and lacking power, was destroyed in a fire. Two outbuildings, unlawfully being used as dwellings, were also damaged. One report stated: “The [p]roperty . . . exists as a makeshift, illegal mobile home park and junkyard.” After many unsuccessful attempts to compel Quail to abate the conditions, the county obtained the appointment of a receiver under Health and Safety Code section 17980.7 and Code of Civil Procedure section 564 to oversee abatement work. The banks challenged a superior court order authorizing the receiver to finance its rehabilitation efforts through a loan secured by a “super-priority” lien on the property and a subsequent order authorizing the sale of the property free and clear of U.S. Bank’s lien.The court of appeal affirmed in part. Trial courts enjoy broad discretion in matters subject to a receivership, including the power to issue a receiver’s certificate with priority over pre-existing liens when warranted. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in subordinating U.S. Bank’s lien and confirming the sale of the property free and clear of liens so that the receiver could remediate the nuisance conditions promptly and effectively, but prioritizing the county’s enforcement fees and costs on equal footing with the receiver had no basis in the statutes. View "County of Sonoma v. U.S. Bank N.A." on Justia Law

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In 2005-2007, the borrowers obtained residential home mortgages on California properties. California law would normally have entitled them to “at least 2 percent simple interest per annum” on any funds held in escrow, California Civil Code Section 2954.8. The lender, a federal savings association organized and regulated under the Home Owners’ Loan Act of 1933 (HOLA), 12 U.S.C. 1461, did not pay interest because HOLA preempts California law. In a suit against the lender’s successor, Chase, a national bank organized and regulated under the National Bank Act, 12 U.S.C. 38, the district court denied the lender’s motion to dismiss; the Ninth Circuit has held that there is no “conflict preemption” between the National Bank Act and the California law.The Ninth Circuit reversed. HOLA field preemption principles applied to the claims against Chase even though its conduct giving rise to the complaint occurred after it acquired the loans in question. Because California’s interest-on-escrow law imposed a requirement regarding escrow accounts; affected the terms of sale, purchase, investment in, and participation in loans originated by savings associations; and had more than an incidental effect on the lending operations of savings associations, it was preempted by 12 C.F.R. 560.2(b)(6) and (b)(10), and 560.2(c). View "McShannock v. JP Morgan Chase Bank NA" on Justia Law

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A mortgage conveys an interest in real property as security. Lenders often require borrowers to maintain hazard insurance that protects the property. If the borrower fails to maintain adequate coverage, the lender may buy the insurance and force the borrower to cover the cost (force-placed coverage). States generally require insurers to file their rates with an administrative agency and may not charge rates other than the filed rates. The filed-rate is unassailable in judicial proceedings even if the insurance company defrauded an administrative agency to obtain approval of the rate.Borrowers alleged that their lender, Nationstar, colluded with an insurance company, Great American, and an insurance agent, Willis. Great American allegedly inflated the filed rate filed so it and Willis could return a portion of the profits to Nationstar to induce Nationstar’s continued business. The borrowers paid the filed rate but claimed that the practice violated their mortgages, New Jersey law concerning unjust enrichment, the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and tortious interference with business relationships; the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act; the Truth in Lending Act, 15 U.S.C. 1601–1665; and RICO, 18 U.S.C. 1961–1968.The Third Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit. Once an insurance rate is filed with the appropriate regulatory body, courts have no ability to effectively reduce it by awarding damages for alleged overcharges: the filed-rate doctrine prevents courts from deciding whether the rate is unreasonable or fraudulently inflated. View "Leo v. Nationstar Mortgage LLC of Delaware" on Justia Law

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In 2012, Seaway Bank sued J&A to collect on loans secured by a mortgage on Chicago property. In 2013, the court entered a judgment of foreclosure. The court approved the sale of the mortgaged property and entered a $116,381 deficiency judgment against the guarantor. In 2017, Illinois regulators closed Seaway. The FDIC was appointed as receiver, set a claims bar date, and published notice. J&A filed no timely claims. Months later, J&A filed a Petition to Quash Service in the 2012 state-court lawsuit. J&A argued that once relief was granted, it was entitled to the property.The FDIC removed the proceeding to federal court and moved to stay the proceedings to allow J&A to exhaust the mandatory claims process under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act, 12 U.S.C. 1821(d). The court granted the stay; J&A did not submit any claims by the submission deadline. The FDIC moved to dismiss for failure to exhaust the Act's claims process. J&A asserted that the jurisdiction-stripping provision applied only to claims seeking payment from a failed bank and that J&A did not seek payment but only to quash service and vacate void orders; only if the court granted that non-monetary relief could they pursue “possessory relief,” so that the FDIC’s motion was not ripe because they were not yet seeking the return of the property or monetary relief. The Seventh Circuit affirmed dismissal. The district court lacked jurisdiction over the Petition because J&A failed to exhaust administrative remedies. View "Seaway Bank & Trust Co. v. J&A Series I, LLC, Series C" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit vacated the district court's judgment granting Wells Fargo's motion to dismiss. Relators alleged that the district court erred in concluding that fraudulent loan requests knowingly presented to one or more of the Federal Reserve System's twelve Federal Reserve Banks (FRBs) are not "claims" within the meaning of the False Claims Act (FCA), and thus do not give rise to FCA liability.The court held that the FCA's definition of a "claim" is capacious. The court explained that, although FRB personnel are not officers or employees of the United States, the FRBs administered the Federal Reserve System's emergency lending facilities on behalf of the United States, using authority delegated by Congress and money provided by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. Therefore, the court concluded that the FRBs are agents of the United States within the meaning of 31 U.S.C. 3729(b)(2)(A)(i). The court also held that the money requested by defendants and other Fed borrowers is provided by the United States to advance a Government program or interest within the meaning of section 3729(b)(2)(A)(ii). View "United States v. Wells Fargo" 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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The Association challenged the NCUA's promulgation of a final rule that makes it easier for community credit unions to expand their geographical coverage and thus to reach more potential members. The DC Circuit considered the Federal Credit Union Act's text, purpose, and legislative history, and held that the agency's policy choices were entirely appropriate for the most part. With respect to the qualification of certain Combined Statistical Areas as local communities and the increased population cap for rural districts, the court directed the district court to issue summary judgment in favor of the NCUA. With respect to the elimination of the urban-core requirement for local communities based on Core Based Statistical Areas, the court directed the district court to issue summary judgment in favor of the Association and to remand, without vacating, the relevant portion of the 2016 rule for further explanation. View "American Bankers Assoc. v. National Credit Union Administration" on Justia Law

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The United States government thought that three banks, headquartered in China, held records that might clarify how North Korea finances its nuclear weapons program. After the government subpoenaed those records, the Banks resisted and claimed that the district court lacked personal jurisdiction, that the Patriot Act subpoena exceeded the government's statutory authority, and that compelling production would run afoul of comity principles. The district court overruled the Banks' objections and subsequently held the Banks in civil contempt for failing to produce the requested records.The DC Circuit affirmed the contempt orders, holding that the Banks' jurisdictional challenges were meritless where Banks One and Two consented to jurisdiction when they opened branches in the United States and, although Bank Three has no U.S. branch and executed no such agreement, its choice to maintain correspondent accounts in the United States established an adequate connection to the forum and the enforcement action to sustain jurisdiction.The court also held that records "related to" a U.S. correspondent account, under 31 U.SC. 5318(k)(3)(A)(i), include records of transactions that do not themselves pass through a correspondent account when those transactions are in service of an enterprise entirely dedicated to obtaining access to U.S. currency and markets using a U.S. correspondent account. In this case, Bank Three's subpoena under the Patriot Act did not exceed the Attorney General's statutory authority, because all records pertaining to the Company's Bank Three account and its correspondent banking transactions, no matter where they occurred, are "related to" the Bank's U.S. correspondent accounts.In regard to the Banks' comity concerns, the court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by enforcing the subpoenas despite the fact that the United States chose not to pursue the process designated in the Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement (MLAA) between the United States and China. Finally, the court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by issuing the civil contempt orders in light of the circumstances. View "In re: Sealed Case" on Justia Law

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Deutsche Bank National Trust Company ("Deutsche Bank"); MERSCORP, Inc., and Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (collectively, "MERS"); and CIS Financial Services, Inc. ("CIS"), petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court for permission, pursuant to Rule 5, Ala. R. App. P., to appeal the trial court's denial of their motions seeking to dismiss the claims of the plaintiffs-- Walker County and Rick Allison, in his official capacity as judge of probate of Walker County (collectively, "plaintiffs")--seeking class-based relief on behalf of themselves and all other similarly situated Alabama counties and judges of probate. At issue was a particular aspect of the mortgage-securitization process. Deutsche Bank served as trustee for numerous residential mortgage-backed security ("RMBS") trusts containing mortgages for properties located in Walker County and other Alabama counties. In this case, plaintiffs initiated the underlying litigation against Deutsche Bank "seeking to recover the benefit [Deutsche Bank allegedly] received by relying on the real property recording systems of the Counties without compensating the Counties for that benefit." Plaintiffs alleged that Alabama law requires mortgage assignments to be recorded; therefore, they maintained, the MERS system used by Deutsche Bank avoided the proper recording of mortgage assignments, along with the payment of the requisite filing fees, and has resulted in lost income to county governments. The Alabama Supreme Court reversed the trial court and remanded: “We see no intent in the Code section to embrace a mandatory rule that all conveyances, which would include not only real-property conveyances but also apparently all conveyances of personal property, are required to be recorded in the probate court. Instead, 35-4-50 simply states that the probate court is where conveyances that are required by law to be filed must be filed. Section 35-4-51, in turn, is the Code section that provides for the recording of conveyances generally, and it places a duty on only the probate court to accept those filings. The arguments before us demonstrate no legal duty to record mortgage assignments.” View "Deutsche Bank National Trust Company, as trustee of any specific residential mortgage-backed security" on Justia Law