Articles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

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Appellants, the majority shareholder of Banca Privada d'Andorra S.A., filed suit claiming that FinCEN violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) by issuing a Notice of Finding and a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposing to cut off the Bank's ties to the United States' financial system. While the case was pending, FinCEN withdrew both Notices and the district court subsequently granted FinCEN's motion to dismiss on mootness grounds. The DC Circuit held that the case should be dismissed, but for different reasons than the district court. The DC Circuit explained that when FinCEN withdrew the Notices, appellants received full relief on their first claim. Therefore, the first claim of relief was moot. As for appellants' second claim, they no longer have standing to press this claim, because appellants have not met their burden of demonstrating that they still had standing to seek a declaratory order that the Notices were unlawful. Furthermore, even assuming that appellants do have the requisite injury and causation to support standing, they failed to show that a judicial order would effectively redress their alleged injuries. View "Cierco v. Mnuchin" on Justia Law

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Under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, Pub. L. No. 110-289, 122 Stat. 2654, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) became the conservator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In 2012, FHFA and Treasury adopted the Third Amendment to their stock purchase agreement, which replaced the fixed 10% dividend with a formula by which Fannie and Freddie just paid to Treasury an amount (roughly) equal to their quarterly net worth. Plaintiffs, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac stockholders, filed suit alleging that FHFA's and Treasury's alteration of the dividend formula through the Third Amendment exceeded their statutory authority under the Recovery Act, and constituted arbitrary and capricious agency action in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 706(2)(A). The court held that plaintiffs' statutory claims are barred by the Recovery Act's strict limitation on judicial review; the court rejected most of plaintiffs' common law claims; insofar as the court has subject matter jurisdiction over plaintiffs' common-law claims against Treasury, and Congress has waived the agency's immunity from suit, those claims are also barred by the Recovery Act's limitation on judicial review; in regard to claims against FHFA and the Companies, some are barred because FHFA succeeded to all rights, powers, and privileges of the stockholders under the Recovery Act, and others failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted; and, as to the remaining claims, which are contract-based claims regarding liquidation preferences and dividend rights, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Perry Capital LLC v. Mnuchin" on Justia Law

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In the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, 12 U.S.C. 5491, Congress established a new independent agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), an independent agency headed not by a multi-member commission but rather by a single Director. PHH is a mortgage lender that was the subject of a CFPB enforcement action that resulted in a $109 million order against it. PHH seeks to vacate the order, arguing that the CFPB’s status as an independent agency headed by a single Director violates Article II of the Constitution. The court concluded that CFPB’s concentration of enormous executive power in a single, unaccountable, unchecked Director not only departs from settled historical practice, but also poses a far greater risk of arbitrary decisionmaking and abuse of power, and a far greater threat to individual liberty, than does a multi-member independent agency. The court noted that this new agency lacks that critical check and structural constitutional protection, yet wields vast power over the U.S. economy. The court concluded that, in light of the consistent historical practice under which independent agencies have been headed by multiple commissioners or board members, and in light of the threat to individual liberty posed by a single-Director independent agency, Humphrey’s Executor v. United States cannot be stretched to cover this novel agency structure. Therefore, the court held that the CFPB is unconstitutionally structured. To remedy the constitutional flaw, the court followed the Supreme Court’s precedents and simply severed the statute’s unconstitutional for-cause provision from the remainder of the statute. With the for-cause provision severed, the court explained that the President now will have the power to remove the Director at will, and to supervise and direct the Director. Because the CFPB as remedied will continue operating, the court addressed the statutory issues raised by PHH and agreed with PHH that Section 8 of the Act allows captive reinsurance arrangements so long as the amount paid by the mortgage insurer for the reinsurance does not exceed the reasonable market value of the reinsurance; CFPB’s order against PHH violated bedrock principles of due process; and the CFPB on remand still will have an opportunity to demonstrate that the relevant mortgage insurers in fact paid more than reasonable market value to the PHH-affiliated reinsurer for reinsurance, thereby making disguised payments for referrals in contravention of Section 8. Accordingly, the court granted the petition for review, vacated the order, and remanded for further proceedings. View "PHH Corp. v. CFPB" on Justia Law