Justia Banking Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Injury Law
Villarreal v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.
Plaintiff filed suit for breach of contract, negligence, wrongful foreclosure, and violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA), Tex. Bus. & Com. Code 17.50(a)(1)). On appeal, plaintiff challenged the district court's dismissal of her claims, as well as her motion to join a non-diverse defendant. The court concluded that the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's breach-of-contract claim was proper because she failed to allege any facts showing her own performance and did not refute the facts in documents referred to in her complaint, central to her claims, and attached to the motion to dismiss; the dismissal of the negligence claim was proper where any damages stemming from an alleged violation of those solely contractual duties are not redressable in tort; the wrongful-foreclosure claim was properly dismissed where plaintiff never alleged that Wells Fargo disposed of the house at a “grossly inadequate selling price,” nor does she allege that Wells Fargo fraudulently chilled the bidding at the foreclosure sale; and, where plaintiff bases her DTPA claims on Wells Fargo’s failure to make automatic withdrawals to pay the loan, such services cannot form the basis of a DTPA claim because they are incidental to the loan and would serve no purpose apart from facilitating the mortgage loan. Finally, in regard to the motion to join a non-diverse defendant, the district court applied the correct legal standard and its finding of fact were not clearly erroneous. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Villarreal v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A." on Justia Law
Moore-Dennis v. Franklin
PNC Bank, National Association, and Sonja Moore-Dennis separately appealed a Circuit Court order denying their motion to compel arbitration as to Joseph Franklin's claims against them. Franklin had three bank accounts with the predecessor bank to PNC Bank, RBC Bank (USA), before RBC Bank merged with PNC Bank. Shortly before the merger, PNC Bank, in January 2012, allegedly mailed a welcome letter and a PNC Bank Account Agreement. The account agreement did not contain an arbitration provision. Tamara Franklin, Franklin's niece came to to visit one day. Tamara noticed a document that she thought was a bank statement from PNC Bank. After looking at the document, Tamara was concerned that Franklin owed money to PNC Bank. Franklin said he did not owe PNC Bank any money but that Tamara could call his financial advisor, Sonja Moore-Dennis, if she had any concerns. Franklin alleged that Moore-Dennis was a PNC Bank agent or employee at this time; PNC Bank denies that it had ever employed Moore-Dennis. After investigating the matter, Franklin and Tamara came to the conclusion that Moore-Dennis had been stealing funds from Franklin's accounts. Additionally, it appeared to Franklin and Tamara that Moore-Dennis had created an online banking profile for Franklin but had set up the profile so that account notifications were sent to her e-mail address. Franklin, who is elderly, did not have Internet access or an e-mail address and did not know how to use online banking. Franklin sued PNC Bank and Moore-Dennis alleging fraud, suppression, breach of fiduciary duty, and various forms of negligence and wantonness. PNC Bank moved to compel arbitration, raising the terms of the account agreement as grounds for its motion. The Alabama Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s order, finding that the Bank and Moore-Dennis failed to prove that Franklin received the account agreement or accessed a specific web page that contained the arbitration provision as described in the account agreement. View "Moore-Dennis v. Franklin" on Justia Law
Skinner v. U.S. Bank Home Mortgage
Greg and Jessica Skinner appealed a judgment dismissing the Skinners’ claim of negligence against U.S. Bank Home Mortgage. U.S. Bank retained insurance funds received after the Skinners’ home was destroyed by fire and released a portion of the funds as the home was rebuilt. There were serious defects in the new construction that ultimately culminated in the project being abandoned. The Skinners claimed that the district court improperly granted summary judgment because U.S. Bank owed the Skinners a fiduciary duties regarding the disbursement of the insurance proceeds. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Skinner v. U.S. Bank Home Mortgage" on Justia Law
Arnesen v. Rivers Edge Golf Club & Plantation, Inc.
Plaintiffs were individual investors in undeveloped real estate that purchased real property shortly before the collapse of the real estate market. In 2010, Plaintiffs commenced this action seeking to recover against a bank and its appraisers for their alleged participation in a scheme to defraud investors by artificially inflating property values. Specifically, Plaintiffs alleged that they would not have purchased the real property but for faulty appraisal information and that the bank should have disclosed the inflating appraised property values to them. The trial court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss on the basis that Plaintiffs did not receive the appraisals at the time of their decisions to purchase. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because it was undisputed that Plaintiffs decided to purchase the investment properties without consulting an appraisal and obligated themselves to purchase the properties independent of the loan process, Defendants were entitled to dismissal of all claims. View "Arnesen v. Rivers Edge Golf Club & Plantation, Inc." on Justia Law
U.S. Bank National Ass’n v. Shepherd
U.S. Bank National Association ("USB"), successor in interest to Bank of America, N.A., which was the successor by merger to LaSalle Bank, National Association, as trustee for Structured Asset Investment Loan Trust, Mortgage Pass-Through Certificates, Series 2004-4 ("the Trust"), and Bank of America, N.A. ("BOA"), separately appealed a $3.9 million judgment entered against them on trespass and wantonness claims asserted by Chester and Emily Shepherd. USB also appealed the trial court's judgment in favor of the Shepherds on its claims related to an alleged error in a mortgage executed by the Shepherds upon which the Trust had foreclosed. The Alabama Supreme Court reversed. "'Every single one of these cases . . . rejects the availability of negligence and wantonness claims under Alabama law under comparable circumstances to those identified by the [plaintiffs]. Every one of these cases undercuts the legal viability of [the plaintiffs' negligence and wantonness claims], and rejects the very arguments articulated by the [plaintiffs] in opposing dismissal of those causes of action. ... the mortgage servicing obligations at issue here are a creature of contract, not of tort, and stem from the underlying mortgage and promissory note executed by the parties, rather than a duty of reasonable care generally owed to the public. To the extent that the [plaintiffs] seek to hold defendants liable on theories of negligent or wanton servicing of their mortgage, [those negligence and wantonness claims] fail to state claims upon which relief can be granted.'" View "U.S. Bank National Ass'n v. Shepherd" on Justia Law
Masters Group Int’l v. Comerica Bank
The Butte Local Development Corporation (BLDC) filed a complaint against Masters Group International alleging that Masters had failed to pay its obligations under a loan agreement, as modified. Masters filed a third-party complaint against Comerica Bank, alleging, among other claims, that Comerica breached a Forbearance Agreement. A jury found Masters liable to BLDC for $275,251 and found Comerica liable to Masters for a total of $52,037,593, which included punitive damages. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment against Comerica, holding (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion by implicitly denying Comerica’s severance motion; (2) the district court erred in applying Montana law despite the existence of a contractual Michigan choice-of-law provision, and had the district court properly applied Michigan law, Masters’ tort claims would not have been permitted to go to the jury as stand-alone tort claims, and the jury’s award of $10.5 million in punitive damages must be vacated; (3) the law of both Montana and Michigan supports the district court’s decision to submit the companion questions of contract formation and waiver to the jury; and (4) the district court abused its discretion by allowing Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) evidence to be presented to the jury. Remanded for a new trial on the contract claims applying Michigan law. View "Masters Group Int’l v. Comerica Bank" on Justia Law
Windesheim v. Larocca
Respondents, three married couples, obtained home equity lines of credit from Petitioners, a bank and its loan officer. Approximately four years later, Petitioners filed a putative class action alleging that these transactions were part of an elaborate “buy-first-sell-later” mortgage fraud arrangement carried out by Petitioners and other defendants. Petitioners alleged numerous causes of action, including fraud, conspiracy, and violations of Maryland consumer protection statutes. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Petitioners, concluding that the statute of limitations barred several of Respondents’ claims and that no Petitioner violated the Maryland Secondary Mortgage Loan Law as a matter of law. The Court of Special Appeals reversed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the Court of Special Appeals (1) erred in concluding that Respondents stated a claim upon which relief could be granted under the Maryland Secondary Mortgage Loan Law; and (2) erred in concluding that it was a question of fact to be decided by the jury as to whether Respondents’ claims against Petitioners were barred by the relevant statute of limitations. View "Windesheim v. Larocca" on Justia Law
The Bancorp Bank v. Cross & Simon, LLC
Plaintiff filed this action against Defendant seeking a declaration that it had a superior lien on funds to which Defendant also claimed an entitlement. Plaintiff brought two counts against Defendant, one requesting a declaration that Plaintiff was entitled to the immediate release and receipt of all funds at issue and the other alleging conversion. Defendant moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim, for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and for failure to join an indispensable party. The Court of Chancery dismissed the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, holding (1) Plaintiff’s application for declaratory relief should be heard in superior court because that court has the power and ability to resolve a lien dispute and because Plaintiff has an adequate and complete remedy at law; and (2) Plaintiff’s second count for conversion asserts a legal right and implicates a legal remedy, and therefore, the Court of Chancery lacks subject matter jurisdiction to address it. View "The Bancorp Bank v. Cross & Simon, LLC" on Justia Law
Chartier v. Farm Family Life Ins. Co.
When Mark Chartier and Lisa Heward were married, Chartier purchased an annuity policy from Farm Family Life Insurance Co. for which he named Heward as primary beneficiary. Heward later requested the cash value of the annuity to Farm Family by signing Chartier’s name on the form. Farm Family issued a check payable to Chartier in the requested amount, Heward deposited the check into her and Chartier’s joint account with Gorham Savings Bank, and then withdrew $40,000 from the joint account. That same day, Heward informed Chartier that she wanted a divorce. Chartier filed a complaint against Farm Family, Gorham Savings Bank, and Farm Family’s sales agent, alleging breach of fiduciary duty, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and negligence. The superior court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants as to all counts. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that summary judgment was properly entered in the defendants’ favor as to all counts. View "Chartier v. Farm Family Life Ins. Co." on Justia Law
Zayed v. Associated Bank, N.A.
For about three years ending in 2009, five schemers bilked unsuspecting investors of an estimated $190 million in a Minnesota Ponzi scheme. They took more than $79 million of the investors’ funds with the help of Associated Bank. After the scheme was exposed, the district judge in a related case appointed a receiver to take custody of funds owned by the schemers’ estates and by organizations under their control (receiver entities). The receiver filed suit on behalf of the receiver entities, alleging Associated Bank aided and abetted the scheme. The district court granted Associated Bank’s motion to dismiss. The Eighth Circuit reversed and remanded, stating that, while it could not predict whether a jury will find Associated Bank either had actual knowledge of or substantially assisted in the asserted torts, the facts alleged in the complaint give the receiver’s claims “facial plausibility.” The receiver pled “factual content that allows the court [and a jury] to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” View "Zayed v. Associated Bank, N.A." on Justia Law