Justia U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Banking

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Richard and Gwen Dutcher and their co-plaintiffs (collectively, “plaintiffs”) brought suit in Utah state court on behalf of a putative plaintiff class against ReconTrust, a national bank that served as the substitute trustee for class members’ deeds of trust over properties located in Utah. The suit alleged that ReconTrust illegally non-judicially foreclosed on the plaintiffs’ properties because depository institutions like ReconTrust did not have the power of sale over properties secured by trust deed. The plaintiffs also sued B.A.C. Home Loans Servicing (“BAC”) and Bank of America, N.A. (“BOA”), as the former trustees who transferred trusteeship to ReconTrust, as well as Stuart Matheson and his law firm, as the agents who conducted the foreclosure sale on behalf of ReconTrust. ReconTrust and the other defendants removed the case to federal court. They maintained that ReconTrust’s acts were lawful. The district court denied a motion by plaintiffs to remand the case to state court and agreed with ReconTrust on the merits, which led the court to grant the defendants’ pending motion to dismiss. On appeal to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, plaintiffs sought reversal of the court’s order denying remand to Utah state court, and reversal of the order granting dismissal of the case. The Tenth Circuit concluded, however, that the district court properly decided that it had jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”); accordingly, it correctly denied the plaintiffs’ motion for remand. On the merits, the Court concluded that ReconTrust was authorized to conduct the challenged foreclosures under federal law, and the plaintiffs had relatedly failed to state a claim on which relief could be granted. The Court therefore affirmed the district court’s judgment as to both issues. View "Dutcher v. Matheson" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-Appellant Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) sought to recover on a financial institution crime bond and appealed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendant-Appellee Kansas Bankers Surety Co. (KBS) and the subsequent denial of reconsideration. The district court held that the underlying bank, the New Frontier Bank of Greeley, Colorado, (Bank) had failed to submit a timely and complete proof of loss, thereby barring FDIC’s recovery on the bond. Finding no error in the district court's decision, the Tenth Circuit affirmed. View "FDIC v. Kansas Bankers Surety Company" on Justia Law

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Richard George, Steven Leavitt, Sandra Leavitt, and Darrell Dalton appealed the district court’s dismissal of their putative class action against Urban Settlement Services, d/b/a Urban Lending Solutions (Urban) and Bank of America, N.A. (BOA). Plaintiffs asserted a claim under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) against BOA and Urban. Plaintiffs also brought a promissory estoppel claim against BOA. Both claims arose from the defendants’ allegedly fraudulent administration of the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). The district court granted the defendants’ Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss both claims, denied the plaintiffs’ request for leave to amend their first amended complaint, and dismissed the case. After review, the Tenth Circuit concluded that plaintiffs’ first amended complaint stated a facially plausible RICO claim against BOA and Urban and a facially plausible promissory estoppel claim against BOA. As such, the Court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. This reversal mooted plaintiffs’ challenge to the district court’s denial of their request to further amend the complaint. View "George v. Urban Settlement Services" on Justia Law

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Amidst the 2007–2008 financial crisis, the Office of the State Bank Commissioner of Kansas declared The Columbian Bank and Trust Company insolvent, seized the bank’s assets, and appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation as receiver. The FDIC then sold many of the bank’s assets. Columbian Financial Corporation, the bank’s sole shareholder, sued the state bank commission and four commission officials (Judi Stork, Deryl Schuster, Edwin Splichal, and J. Thomas Thull). Columbian Financial alleged denial of due process from the seizure of bank assets, and sought equitable remedies and damages. The district court dismissed the complaint. This appeal followed, with the parties raising two issues: (1) whether the district court properly abstained under "Younger v. Harris," (401 U.S. 37 (1971)); and (2) whether Stork and Thull were entitled to qualified immunity on the claims for damages. The Tenth Circuit found that a state court proceeding was ongoing when the federal complaint was filed, and the state proceeding terminated while this appeal was pending. In light of this change of circumstances, the Court vacated the dismissal without prejudice on the equitable claims and remand for further proceedings. The Court also found that Stork and Thull enjoyed qualified immunity on the claim for damages because the alleged conduct would not have violated a clearly established constitutional right. View "Columbian Financial Corp. v. Stork" on Justia Law

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American Fidelity Assurance Company sued the Bank of New York Mellon (“BNYM”) for claims arising from BNYM’s conduct as Trustee of a trust holding mortgage-backed securities owned by American Fidelity. BNYM did not assert a personal jurisdiction defense in its first two motions to dismiss or in its answer. In its third motion to dismiss, BNYM argued it was not subject to general jurisdiction in Oklahoma. The district court denied the motion, concluding BNYM had waived the defense by failing to raise it in prior filings. BNYM challenges that decision in an interlocutory appeal. Finding no reversible error, the Tenth Circuit affirmed. View "American Fidelity Assurance v. Bank of New York Mellon" on Justia Law

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Appellant FB Acquisition Property I, LLC appealed a district court order affirming the confirmation of a Chapter 11 plan for Appellees and Debtors Larry and Susan Gentry. The Gentrys were the sole shareholders, officers, and directors of Ball Four Inc., a sports complex in Adams County, Colorado. In 2010, Ball Four filed a voluntary Chapter 11 petition, and a year later, the Gentrys filed this Chapter 11 proceeding. This appeal involved aspects of both bankruptcies. In 2005, Ball Four received a $1.9 million loan from FirsTier Bank to expand its sporting facilities and pay off a previous loan. After four years of struggling with construction defects, underfunding of the project, and an economic downturn, Ball Four stopped making interest payments to FirsTier. Ball Four proposed a plan of reorganization that provided the bank’s allowed claim would be repaid in full, plus interest, and that FirsTier would retain its lien on Ball Four’s property until the claim was paid. Before Ball Four’s Chapter 11 plan was approved in 2011, the Colorado Division of Banking closed FirsTier and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) was appointed as receiver. Later, the FDIC conveyed all rights under the original promissory note to 2011-SIP 1 CRE/CADC Venture, LLC (SIP). Neither FirsTier, FDIC, nor SIP objected to the Ball Four Plan, and it was confirmed in August 2011, and Ball Four’s case was closed in 2013. In October 2010, a month after Ball Four filed for bankruptcy, FirsTier sued the Gentrys in Colorado state court to collect on the guaranties. In November 2011, the Gentrys filed this Chapter 11 case. The Gentrys filed the necessary disclosures and an amended plan. The amended plan provided that the Gentrys’ liability on the 2005 loan would be satisfied by Ball Four under its confirmed plan. Despite SIP’s objections, the bankruptcy court confirmed the Gentry Plan in 2013. Because the bankruptcy court's feasibility finding of the Gentrys' plan was based on a permissible view of the evidence, the Tenth Circuit concluded the bankruptcy court’s finding of feasibility was not clearly erroneous. However, the Court found the district court erred with regard to limiting the Gentrys' liability as guarantors to the amount Ball Four owed. In light of the Tenth Circuit's ruling, the matter was remanded back to the bankruptcy court in the event the guaranty issue impacted the plan feasibility assessment. View "In re: Gentry" on Justia Law
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Defendant-Appellants Carl McCaffree, Jimmy Helvey, and Sam McCaffree (director-defendants) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment to BancInsure, Inc. BancInsure issued a Directors and Officers Liability Insurance Policy to Columbian and its parent Columbian Financial Corporation (CFC). the Kansas State Bank Commissioner declared Columbian insolvent and appointed the FDIC as receiver. By operation of law, the FDIC-R succeeded to "all rights, titles, powers, and privileges of [Columbian], and of any stockholder, member, accountholder, depositor, officer, or director" of Columbian. BancInsure received notice of potential claims the FDIC-R intended to file against the bank's officers and directors. In anticipation of such a suit, CFC and director-defendant Carl McCaffree brought suit against BancInsure seeking a declaratory judgment that the policy covered claims made after the date Columbian was declared insolvent, but before the expiration of the policy. The district court ultimately held that the policy remained in effect until May 11, 2010, relying in part on its finding that a regulatory endorsement in the policy "provide[d] coverage for actions brought by deposit insurance organizations as receivers during the policy year," which would have been meaningless if the policy terminated upon appointment of a receiver. On appeal, the Tenth Circuit sua sponte determined that no case or controversy existed at the time of the district court's judgment and remanded with instructions to vacate the judgment for lack of jurisdiction. BancInsure filed the instant action against the director-defendants in Kansas state court seeking a declaratory judgment that it owed no duty of coverage to the director-defendants for claims brought against them by the FDIC-R. The FDIC-R joined and removed the action to the federal district court in Kansas. At approximately the same time, the FDIC-R brought claims against several of Columbian's former directors and officers alleging negligence, gross negligence, and breach of fiduciary duty. The district court held that claims by the FDIC-R were unambiguously excluded by the policy's "insured v. insured" exclusion and that BancInsure was not judicially estopped from denying coverage. Finding no reversible error in that judgment, the Tenth Circuit affirmed. View "BancInsure v. FDIC" on Justia Law

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The Barnes Banking Company (the "Bank") had been placed into Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation ("FDIC") receivership in 2010. Three shareholders in Barnes Bancorporation (the "Holding Company"), parent of the failed bank, brought suit against the Holding Company and its officers and directors. The district court’s dismissal of their suit was on the basis that most of the claims advanced by the plaintiffs were owned solely by the FDIC under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 ("FIRREA"), and the remaining allegations were insufficient to state a claim. The shareholders appealed the district court's decision, but the Tenth Circuit agreed: because almost all of the plaintiffs’ claims asserted injury to the Holding Company that was derivative of harm to the Bank, those claims belonged to the FDIC. Furthermore, the one theory of recovery advanced by plaintiffs that identified claims not owned by the FDIC under FIRREA (which involves the alleged misappropriation of $265,000), was pled in too conclusory a fashion. View "Barnes v. Harris" on Justia Law
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Plaintiff-appellant National Credit Union Administration Board ("NCUA") appealed the district court's order dismissing as untimely its complaint against defendants-appellees Barclays Capital Inc., BCAP LLC, and Securitized Asset Backed Receivables LLC. This case arose from the failure of two of the nation's largest federally insured credit unions: U.S. Central Federal Credit Union and Western Corporate Federal Credit Union. The NCUA was appointed conservator and later as their liquidating agent. The NCUA determined that the Credit Unions had failed because they had invested in residential mortgage-backed securities ("RMBS") sold with offering documents that misrepresented the quality of their underlying mortgage loans. The NCUA set out to pursue recoveries on behalf of the Credit Unions from the issuers and underwriters of the suspect RMBS, including Barclays, and began settlement negotiations with Barclays and other potential defendants. As these negotiations dragged on through 2011 and 2012, the NCUA and Barclays entered into a series of tolling agreements that purported to exclude all time that passed during the settlement negotiations when "calculating any statute of limitations, period of repose or any defense related to those periods or dates that might be applicable to any Potential Claim that the NCUA may have against Barclays." Significantly, Barclays also expressly made a separate promise in the tolling agreements that it would not "argue or assert" in any future litigation a statute of limitations defense that included the time passed in the settlement negotiations. After negotiations with Barclays broke down, the NCUA filed suit, more than five years after the RMBS were sold, and more than three years after the NCUA was appointed conservator of the Credit Unions. Barclays moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim on several grounds, including untimeliness. Barclays initially honored the tolling agreements but argued that the NCUA's federal claims were nevertheless untimely under the Securities Act's three-year statute of repose, which was not waivable. While Barclays's motion to dismiss was pending, the district court in a separate case involving different defendant Credit Suisse, granted Credit Suisse's motion to dismiss a similar NCUA complaint on the grounds that contractual tolling was not authorized under the Extender Statute. Barclays amended its motion to dismiss asserting a similar Extender Statute argument. The district court dismissed the NCUA's complaint, incorporating by reference its opinion in Credit Suisse. The NCUA appealed, arguing that its suit was timely under the Extender Statute. The Tenth Circuit reversed and remanded: "while it is true that the NCUA's claims are outside the statutory period and therefore untimely, that argument is unavailable to Barclays because the NCUA reasonably relied on Barclays's express promise not to assert that defense." View "National Credit Union v. Barclays Capital" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-Appellant, Security Service Federal Credit Union (“SSFCU”), appealed a district court’s summary judgment in favor of Defendants- Appellees, including First American Mortgage Funding, LLC (“FAM”) and First American Mortgage, Inc.; and Stewart Title of California, Inc., Orange Coast Title Company of Southern California, and Lawyers Title Company (together, the “Closing Agents”). In August 2003, SSFCU’s predecessor in interest, New Horizons Community Credit Union, entered into a Funding Service Agreement with FAM, under which FAM originated 26 loans to individual borrowers for the purchase and construction of residential properties in Colorado and California. The Closing Agents performed closing procedures. SSFCU maintained that the FAM Defendants and Closing Agents, through a variety of acts and omissions, wrongfully induced New Horizons to fund these loans to straw borrowers. SSFCU further contended that the loan transactions were a vehicle to misappropriate some $14 million in loan proceeds. The issue this appeal presented for the Tenth Circuit's review centered on whether SSFCU had the right to pursue those claims pursuant to a 2007 Purchase and Assumption Agreement (“PAA”) between SSFCU and the National Credit Union Administration (“NCUA”), as the liquidating agent for New Horizons. Both the NCUA and SSFCU argued that under the terms of the PAA, the NCUA transferred the “right, title and interest” in the loans and various other assets to SSFCU, including the claims at issue. As the parties to the agreement, the NCUA and SSFCU both understood that a transfer of “the right, title and interest” in the loans was intended to transfer any and all claims relating to those loans. On the other hand, the PAA also provided that “except as otherwise specifically provided” the NCUA retained the “the sole right to pursue claims . . . and to recover any and all losses incurred by the Liquidating Credit Union prior to liquidation.” According to the Defendants, absent a valid assignment from the NCUA, SSFCU could not sue on the claims contained in its Fourth Amended Complaint. The district court agreed with the Defendants. According to the district court, the NCUA retained all claims associated with New Horizons’ losses, it could rely upon the cooperation of SSFCU in pursuing those claims, and, therefore, SSFCU was not a proper party to pursue those claims. The district court did not address an affidavit from the NCUA (through its agent) that cast considerable doubt on its interpretation. The district court held that SSFCU was not a proper plaintiff to assert the claims set forth in its Fourth Amended Complaint and dismissed those claims with prejudice. The Tenth Circuit reversed, finding that the Defendants were neither parties to (or in privity with any party to) nor third-party beneficiaries of the PAA. "The PAA reflects no intent to benefit the Defendants, let alone allow them to enforce it. Essentially, the Defendants are seeking to enforce a right they contend the NCUA has—an exclusive right to the claims asserted by SSFCU3—which is contrary to the doctrine of prudential standing." View "Security Services v. First American Mortgage" on Justia Law
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