Articles Posted in Banking

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Reid founded Capitol, which owned commmunity banks, and served as its chairman and CEO. His daughter and her husband served as president and general counsel. Capitol accepted Federal Reserve oversight in 2009. In 2012, Capitol sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization and became a “debtor in possession.” In 2013, Capitol decided to liquidate and submitted proposals that released its executives from liability. The creditors’ committee objected and unsuccessfully sought derivative standing to sue the Reids for breach of their fiduciary duties. The Reids and the creditors continued negotiation. In 2014, they agreed to a liquidation plan that required Capitol to assign its legal claims to a Liquidating Trust; the Reids would have no liability for any conduct after the bankruptcy filing and their pre-petition liability was limited to insurance recovery. Capitol had a management liability insurance policy, purchased about a year before it filed the bankruptcy petition. The liquidation plan required the Reids to sue the insurer if it denied coverage. The policy excluded from coverage “any claim made against an Insured . . . by, on behalf of, or in the name or right of, the Company or any Insured,” except for derivative suits by independent shareholders and employment claims (insured-versus-insured exclusion). The Liquidation Trustee sued the Reids for $18.8 million and notified the insurer. The Sixth Circuit affirmed a declaratory judgment that the insurer had no obligation with respect to the lawsuit, which fell within the insured-versus-insured exclusion. View "Indian Harbor Insurance Co. v. Zucker" on Justia Law

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Debtor-landlord did not retain sufficient rights in rents assigned to lender for those rents to be included in landlord's bankruptcy estate. Town Center owns a 53-unit Shelby Township residential complex; its construction was financed by a $5.3 million loan owned by ECP. The mortgage included an assignment of rents to the creditor in the event of default. Rents from the complex are Town Center’s only income. Town Center defaulted. ECP sent notice to tenants in compliance with the agreement and with Mich. Comp. Laws 554.231, which allows creditors to collect rents directly from tenants of certain mortgaged properties. ECP recorded the notice documents as required by the statute. ECP filed a foreclosure complaint. A week later, Town Center filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy relief, then owing ECP $5,329,329 plus fees and costs. The parties reached an agreement to allow Town Center to collect rents, with $15,000 per month to pay down the debt to ECP and the remainder for authorized expenses. Town Center’s bankruptcy petition resulted in an automatic stay on the state-court case, 11 U.S.C. 362(a). ECP unsuccessfully moved to prohibit Town Center from using rents collected after the petition was filed. The district vacated. The Sixth Circuit reversed; Town Center did not retain sufficient rights in the assigned rents under Michigan law for those rents to be included in the bankruptcy estate. View "In re: Town Center Flats, LLC" on Justia Law

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Simmerman began working at Shoreline Federal Credit Union in 1987 and became manager in 2006. She began embezzling money, by complex manipulation of ledgers, in 1998 and was discovered in 2014. She pled guilty to embezzling $1,528,000, 18 U.S.C. 657, and to structuring the deposits of the money she stole to evade the reporting requirements of 31 U.S.C. 5313(a), in violation of 31 U.S.C. 5324(a)(3) and (d)(1). The district court assessed Simmerman’s total offense level at 28, based on a base offense level of seven, a 16-level increase for a loss amount between $1 million and $2.5 million, a two-level increase for sophisticated means, four-level increase for jeopardizing the soundness of a financial institution, a two-level increase for abuse of a position of trust, and a three-level reduction for acceptance of responsibility and a timely plea. With a criminal history category of I, Simmerman’s guideline range was 78-97 months and she was sentenced to 78 months on Count 1 and 60 months on Count 2, to be served concurrently. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, upholding the imposition of enhancements for sophisticated means (U.S.S.G. 2B1.1(10)(C)); jeopardizing the soundness of a financial institution (U.S.S.G. 2B1.1(b)(16)(B)(i)); and abuse of a position of trust (U.S.S.G. 3B1.3). View "United States v. Simmerman" on Justia Law

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In 2008, Kinzel, then CEO of Cedar Fair, borrowed $8,000,000 from Merrill Lynch to finance his exercise of the company’s stock options and to pay estimated taxes that would be due immediately upon exercise. Kinzel pledged the shares that he would acquire as collateral and entered into an agreement that allowed Merrill Lynch, “in its sole discretion and without prior notice,” to “liquidate” the collateral upon any of twelve events, including “if the value of the . . . collateral is in the sole judgment of [Merrill Lynch] insufficient.” The market value of the company dropped from the exercise price of $23.19 per share in April 2008 to $6.99 per share in March 2009. Having set a $7.00-per-share “trigger” to liquidate, Merrill Lynch began selling Kinzel’s shares, without advance notice to Kinzel and without first making demand upon Kinzel for repayment. Kinzel appealed the district court’s denial of leave to file an amended complaint to reassert a breach-of-contract claim that had been dismissed, and final judgment in favor of Merrill Lynch on a breach-of-good-faith claim. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, finding that Kinzel could not state a claim for breach of contract and that Merrill Lynch exercised its discretion within the “contemplated range” of “judgment based upon sincerity, honesty, fair dealing and good faith.” View "Kinzel v. Bank of America" on Justia Law

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Watson, the chairman of Cyberco, created Teleservices as a “paper company” to run a Ponzi scheme. Teleservices had no separate officers, directors, or employees. Watson borrowed money and instructed lenders to send the money to Teleservices to pay for computer equipment. Watson then moved the money from Teleservices account to Cyberco’s account at Huntington. He used that money to pay salaries and earlier debts. By 2004, Cyberco owed Huntington $16 million. In September 2003, Cyberco tried to deposit a $2.3 million Teleservices check; the check bounced. Huntington employees became suspicious. In January 2004, Huntington asked Cyberco to find a new bank, noting “‘red flags.” As Huntington investigated, Cyberco paid its debt to Huntington. Later, the FBI raided Cyberco’s offices. Watson committed suicide. Cyberco’s creditors commenced an involuntary Chapter 7 proceeding; an appointed receiver filed for Teleservices’s bankruptcy. Teleservices’s bankruptcy trustee sought to recover from Huntington all direct and indirect loan repayments and excess deposits. The bankruptcy court concluded that the trustee could recover $72 million; that Huntington had received transfers in good faith until April 2004; but that Huntington gained inquiry notice of Cyberco’s fraud on September 2003. The district court affirmed. The Sixth Circuit reversed, in part. Cyberco, free to withdraw money from its account, retained “dominion and control,” despite Huntington’s security interest. Huntington gained dominion and control only over money that it received in satisfaction of Cyberco’s debt to it; Huntington was a transferee of direct and indirect loan repayments, but not of the excess deposits. Huntington failed to prove that it received transfers from Teleservices in good faith after April, but precedent does not require recoverability of earlier transfers, just because Huntington had earlier inquiry notice. View "Meoli v. Huntington National Bank" on Justia Law

Posted in: Banking, Bankruptcy

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In 2005, the Robertsons borrowed $192,000, secured by a mortgage on their Memphis home. The note was bundled into a mortgage-backed trust with U.S. Bank as designated supervisor; Wilson as trustee, responsible for conducting any foreclosure sale; and MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems) as the beneficiary. MERS acts as an agent for the owners as mortgage notes are transferred on the secondary market.The Robertsons stopped making payments in 2011. MERS assigned the deed to U.S. Bank. In 2014, Wilson sent the Robertsons a Notice of Trustee’s Sale. The Robertsons responded with a “notice of rescission,” alleging that U.S. Bank had violated the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) and lacked standing to foreclose, then sued U.S. Bank and Wilson in state court. U.S. Bank removed the case to federal court, where the Robertsons agreed to dismiss Wilson. The district court granted U.S. Bank summary judgment. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments that Wilson waived its right to remove the case; U.S. Bank failed to comply with a TILA notice requirement, giving the Robertsons the right to rescind the loan; U.S. Bank lacked standing to enforce the note because it never showed it had a stake in the loan; and U.S. Bank forfeited its right to foreclose when it failed to raise the claim in its answer to the Robertsons’ complaint. View "Robertson v. U.S. Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

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In 2002, the Cartees placed a deed of trust on their Nashville home to secure a loan from Citizens Bank. Although the recorded deed's acknowledgement declares that it was acknowledged in Alabama, it was executed and acknowledged in Tennessee. A month later, the Citizens Deed of Trust was re-recorded; the acknowledgment was revised, with a note declaring that “THIS DOCUMENT IS BEING RERECORDED TO ADD THE DERIVATION CLAUSE AND TO CORRECT THE NOTARY ACKNOWLEDGMENT.” The rerecorded deed was not reexecuted or acknowledged by the Cartees, nor did they have any knowledge of the rerecording. In 2004, the Cartees and Regions Bank entered into a credit agreement secured by a second deed of trust, also recorded. After 2005, federal tax liens, judgment liens, and a mechanic’s lien were recorded against the property. Years later, the Cartees defaulted on their mortgage loan. The Cartees defaulted on several forebearance agreements; Diana Cartee filed for bankruptcy. A foreclosure sale resulted in proceeds that satisfied the debt to Citizens, with a surplus of $281,632.74. In an interpleader action, the court awarded Regions the surplus proceeds and granted the successful foreclosure bidder summary judgment. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, holding that the Cartees could not attempt to invalidate the foreclosure by challenging the validity of the bidder’s deed, based on the “defect” in the Citizens Deed. View "Watson v. Cartee" on Justia Law

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U.S. Bank participates in an FHA-backed mortgage insurance program that encourages lending to high-risk borrowers. U.S. Bank had to certify that it would meet certain requirements, and each time it requested an insurance payment, had to certify that it had followed 24 C.F.R. 203.500 requirements, including engaging in “loss mitigation” measures, such as attempting to arrange a face-to-face meeting with the defaulting borrower, before foreclosing. According to ABLE, an Ohio non-profit organization, U.S. Bank did not satisfy the loss mitigation requirement, wrongfully foreclosed on 22,000 homes, and wrongfully collected $2.3 billion in federal insurance benefits. ABLE alleged violation of the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. 3729. The Department of Justice declined to intervene. The district court found that ABLE premised its case on information that had already been publicly disclosed, precluding it from bringing suit as a qui tam plaintiff. The Sixth Circuit agreed, noting a 2011 consent order between U.S. Bank and the government, requiring U.S. Bank to implement reforms, including measures “to ensure [that] reasonable and good faith efforts, consistent with applicable Legal Requirements, are engaged in Loss Mitigation and foreclosure prevention for delinquent loans,” and a 2011 foreclosure practices review by three federal agencies, which noted that U.S. Bank had failed to take various mitigation measures. View "ABLE v. U.S. Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

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In 2003, the Burniacs executed a mortgage on their home in Plymouth, Michigan to secure a loan from WaMu. Wells Fargo acted as servicer of the mortgage and sent Burniac monthly mortgage statements. WaMu assigned ownership of Burniac’s mortgage to Wells Fargo in 2007. Burniac continued to receive statements from Wells Fargo. WaMu filed for bankruptcy in 2008. Burniac sent his mortgage payments to Wells Fargo for several years, but eventually stopped making payments. Wells Fargo initiated foreclosure proceedings;a foreclosure sale was scheduled for May 23, 2013. Burniac filed suit to prevent the sale, arguing that the assignment was invalid. The state court purportedly entered a default judgment against the bank and preliminarily enjoined the foreclosure sale. Wells Fargo then removed the action to a federal district court, which refused to remand and later entered summary judgment for the bank. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, rejecting an argument that the purported state court default prevented the federal court from entering summary judgment and required a remand. Burniac failed to demonstrate that the alleged assignment irregularities will subject him to double liability, placed him in a worse position to keep his property, or prejudiced him in any other way. View "Burniac v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

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In 2004, the Baumans purchased Ohio property with a loan from Taylor, secured by a mortgage that listed Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems as nominee on behalf of Taylor. In previous litigation involving the parties, the court found the loan was sold to Hudson in 2004. BAC became the loan servicer in 2008. In 2010, BAC brought a foreclosure action in state court. Under Ohio law, a party who seeks to foreclose on a mortgage must prove that “it is the current holder of the note and mortgage.” At the time, Hudson was the note holder, but BAC falsely represented that it had standing. BAC later voluntarily dismissed the case. The Baumans sued BAC’s successor, Bank of America, and Hudson alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. 1692e. The district court rejected the suit, finding that the defendants were not a “debt collector” under FDCPA because they acquired their interests in the debt prior to the Baumans's default. The Baumans filed a new complaint requesting a declaration barring a future foreclosure action and to quiet title. The Sixth Circuit affirmed dismissal, holding that defendants were not required to bring a foreclosure action as a compulsory counterclaim to the FDCPA action. View "Bauman v. Bank of America, N.A." on Justia Law