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

Articles Posted in Banking
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The overarching issue here presented for the Tenth Circuit's review centered on whether the economic-loss rule prevented use of tort remedies for a lender’s failure to carry out its promises. The claims grew out of Plaintiff-appellant Mary Mayotte’s mortgage with U.S. Bank, which used Wells Fargo to service the loan. Mayotte sought modification of the loan and alleged that Wells Fargo had agreed to modify her loan if she withheld three payments. Based on this alleged understanding, Mayotte withheld three payments. But Wells Fargo denied agreeing to modify the loan, and U.S. Bank eventually foreclosed. The foreclosure spurred Mayotte to sue U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo, asserting statutory claims (violation of the Colorado Consumer Protection Act), tort claims (negligence, negligent supervision, and negligent hiring), and a claim for a declaratory judgment. The district court granted summary judgment to U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo, relying in part on the economic-loss rule and Mayotte’s failure to present evidence of compensatory damages. The district court ultimately entered judgment in favor of defendants-lenders, rejecting Mayotte's effort to recover tort remedies for wrongful conduct consisting solely of alleged contractual breaches. To this, the Tenth Circuit agreed with the district court and affirmed judgment. View "Mayotte v. U.S. Bank" on Justia Law

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This appeal arose out of a bankruptcy adversary proceeding, and centered on the ownership of a federal tax refund. The tax refund was issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to United Western Bancorp, Inc. (UWBI), a thrift holding company that had, under the terms of a written “Tax Allocation Agreement,” filed consolidated returns on behalf of itself and several subsidiary corporations. The tax refund was the result, however, of net operating losses incurred by United Western Bank (the Bank), one of UWBI’s subsidiaries. Simon Rodriguez, in his capacity as the Chapter 7 Trustee for the bankruptcy estate of UWBI, initiated this adversary proceeding against the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), as receiver for the Bank, alleging that the tax refund was owned by UWBI and was thus part of the bankruptcy estate. The bankruptcy court agreed and entered summary judgment in favor of the Trustee. The FDIC appealed to the district court, which reversed the decision of the bankruptcy court. The Trustee appealed the district court’s decision. The Tenth Circuit agreed with the district court that the tax refund belonged to the FDIC, as receiver for the Bank. Consequently, the Court affirmed the district court and remanded to the bankruptcy court for further proceedings. View "Rodriguez v. FDIC" on Justia Law

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The Fourth Corner Credit Union applied for a master account from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. The Reserve Bank denied the application, effectively crippling the Credit Union’s business operations. The Credit Union sought an injunction requiring the Reserve Bank to issue it a master account. The district court dismissed the action, ruling that the Credit Union’s stated purpose, providing banking services to marijuana-related businesses, violated the Controlled Substances Act. The Tenth Circuit vacated the district court’s order and remanded with instructions to dismiss the amended complaint without prejudice. By remanding with instructions to dismiss the amended complaint without prejudice, the Court’s disposition effectuated the judgment of two of three panel members who would allow the Fourth Corner Credit Union to proceed with its claims. The Court denied the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s motion to strike the Fourth Corner Credit Union’s reply-brief addenda. View "Fourth Corner Credit Union v. Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas" on Justia Law

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The district court did not err in holding that plaintiffs Stanley and Zinaida Pohl were precluded from asserting a claim to rescind the foreclosure sale of their home, based on their lender’s alleged violations of the Truth in Lending Act (TILA). In May 2007 the Pohls refinanced the loan on their Denver home, securing the loan with a deed of trust. In 2008 they ran into financial difficulties, however, and in 2009 they went into default on the loan. In March 2010, believing that their lender had failed to make TILA-required disclosures, the Pohls delivered a notice of intent to rescind the loan. The lender responded that it would “exercise all appropriate remedies under the promissory note and security instrument in the event of the Borrower’s default.” In June 2011 the deed of trust was assigned to U.S. Bank, as trustee for a certain mortgage loan trust, and in July 2011 U.S. Bank commenced foreclosure proceedings. The Pohls promptly filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In November 2011 the bankruptcy court granted U.S. Bank’s motion to lift the automatic stay as to the property so it could continue the foreclosure proceedings. It also granted the Pohls a discharge. In August 2012 the Pohls and a third party filed in Colorado state court a “Complaint to Quiet Title" alleging they had tendered a valid instrument in payment of the note, which U.S. Bank had rejected. U.S. Bank moved for dismissal of that action for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The state district court granted the motion and dismissed the action. The Pohls’ bankruptcy case was closed in December 2012. The property was sold in a foreclosure sale in January 2013, with U.S. Bank the highest bidder. The Pohls then filed suit that came before the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, still seeking to rescind the 2013 foreclosure in light of the 2010 notice of their intent to rescind to loan. The Pohls' motion was denied, with the district court finding the Pohls' claims were precluded because they could have used the state litigation to challenge the lender's failure to follow the TILA recission process. The Tenth Circuit found no error in that judgment, and affirmed. View "Pohl v. US Bank" on Justia Law

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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

Posted in: Banking, Bankruptcy