Justia Civil Procedure Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Banking
Lagrisola v. North American Financial Corp.
In 2017, Plaintiffs-appellants Loreto and Mercedes Lagrisola applied for and obtained a loan from North American Financial Corporation (NAFC), secured by a mortgage on their residence. In 2021, the Lagrisolas sued NAFC, individually and on behalf of a class of similarly situated persons, alleging NAFC was not licensed to engage in lending in the state of California between 2014 and 2018 and asserted violations of California Business and Professions Code section 17200 and Financial Code sections 22100 and 22751. The trial court sustained NAFC’s demurrer to the FAC without leave to amend, concluding that the allegations in the FAC were insufficient to establish an actual economic injury, necessary for standing under Business and Professions Code section 17200, and that there was no private right of action under Financial Code sections 22100 and 22751. The Lagrisolas appealed, arguing the trial court erred in its judgment. On de novo review, the Court of Appeal reached the same conclusions as the trial court, and accordingly, affirmed. View "Lagrisola v. North American Financial Corp." on Justia Law
Discover Bank v. Romanick, et al.
On April 25, 2023, Discover Bank served a summons and complaint on the defendant alleging past due debt on a credit card. The defendant did not answer or otherwise appear. On May 25, 2023, Discover filed the summons and complaint, sheriff’s return of service, “affidavit of no answer,” and other documents supporting its motion for default judgment. In response, the district court filed a “Notice,” requiring Discover to serve a “Notice of Filing” of the complaint on the defendant and allow him 14 days from the date of the filing of the “Notice of Filing” to respond to the motion for default judgment. Discover then petitioned the North Dakota Supreme Court for a supervisory writ directing the court to vacate its order. The Supreme Court exercised its supervisory jurisdiction, granted the petition, and directed the court to vacate its order. View "Discover Bank v. Romanick, et al." on Justia Law
U.S. Bank National Assoc. v. Hill
In 2002, the Defendant-appellee Carmela Hill (Hill) pursued counterclaims against U.S. Bank and its mortgage servicer Nationstar following bank's dismissal of its foreclosure action against Hill. A jury returned a verdict against bank on borrower's wrongful foreclosure claim and a verdict against the mortgage servicer on multiple claims including violations of the Oklahoma Consumer Protection Act (OCPA) and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The trial court awarded attorney's fees and costs to Hill. The Bank and mortgage servicer appealed and Hill counter-appealed. The Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals dismissed in part borrower's appeal and found neither the OCPA or the FDCPA was applicable. It reversed the attorney's fee award and reduced the amount of awarded costs. In addition, it reversed the wrongful foreclosure judgment against bank and affirmed the remainder of the judgment which concerned breach of contract and tort claims against the mortgage servicer. The Oklahoma Supreme Court dismissed that portion of Hill's appeal seeking review of the trial court's Category II punitive damages ruling; reversed Hill's wrongful foreclosure judgment against U.S. Bank; reversed the OCPA portion of the judgment against Nationstar; affirmed the FDCPA portion of the judgment against Nationstar, including the $1,000.00 award under the FDCPA; reversed the award of attorney's fees and remanded the matter to the trial court to determine a reasonable attorney's fee consistent with the Court's opinion; and reversed $1,223.39 of the costs awarded to Hill. The remainder of the judgment was affirmed. View "U.S. Bank National Assoc. v. Hill" on Justia Law
Gray v. La Salle Bank
Plaintiffs purchased a residence and obtained a $1 million loan, memorialized by a note secured by a deed of trust. Years later, the property was sold through a nonjudicial foreclosure. Plaintiffs, after two prior federal suits were dismissed without prejudice, filed this state lawsuit for wrongful foreclosure, against the Buyers, and Lenders. Lenders successfully argued the action was barred by res judicata (claim preclusion), based on those dismissals; under Federal Rule 41(a)(1)(B), the “two dismissal rule,” the dismissal of the second federal suit was “an adjudication on the merits.”The court of appeal concluded the voluntary dismissal of the second federal lawsuit was not a final “adjudication on the merits” that barred the filing of this case in state court. The two-dismissal rule of Rule 41(a)(1)(B) applies when there is a voluntary dismissal in state or federal court, a second voluntary dismissal in federal court, and the subsequent filing of an action in the same federal court where the second suit was dismissed. Under California law, a plaintiff’s voluntary dismissal without prejudice of a prior action is not a final judgment on the merits that bars a subsequent suit. California does not prohibit a plaintiff from filing dismissals without prejudice in successive actions. The rule is inapplicable to this state court lawsuit alleging only state-law claims. The court nonetheless affirmed, concluding that the challenges to the foreclosure lack merit. View "Gray v. La Salle Bank" on Justia Law
Mirlis v. Greer
Defendant appealed the district court’s judgment awarding damages to Plaintiff to recover funds Defendant received as the result of various alleged fraudulent transfers. The district court entered a default against Defendant as a sanction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(b) for her repeated failure to comply with discovery orders and ultimately entered a default judgment against Defendant for fraudulent transfers, awarding Plaintiff damages calculated based on three checks Defendant drew from bank accounts she held jointly with her debtor husband. The Second Circuit affirmed. The court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in determining that Defendant’s noncompliance during discovery warranted a default. The court explained that Defendant failed to respond to interrogatories and produce the documents Plaintiff requested, in violation of the district court’s many orders. This record supports the district court’s determination that Defendant acted willfully, that lesser sanctions would have been inadequate given Defendant’s continued noncompliance after multiple explicit warnings about the consequences of further noncompliance, that Defendant was given ample notice that her continued noncompliance would result in sanctions, including the entry of default judgment, and that her noncompliance spanned more than six months. The court also concluded that Defendant’s withdrawals from accounts she held jointly with her husband constitute fraudulent transfers under Connecticut law. View "Mirlis v. Greer" on Justia Law
Bartlett v. Baasiri
The plaintiffs in this case are American service members who were wounded, and the relatives of service members who were killed or wounded, in terrorist attacks carried out in Iraq from 2004 to 2011 by proxies of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. In 2019, victims 20 and their family members sued several Lebanese banks, alleging that the banks aided and abetted the attacks by laundering money for Hezbollah. After Plaintiffs filed suit, the United States Department of the Treasury labelled one of those banks, Jammal Trust Bank (JTB), a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. That designation prompted the Banque du Liban, Lebanon’s central bank, to liquidate JTB and acquire its assets. JTB then moved to dismiss the case against it, on the ground that it was now entitled to sovereign immunity as an instrumentality of Lebanon. The district court denied the motion, holding that a defendant is entitled to foreign sovereign immunity only if it possesses such immunity at the time suit is filed. JTB appealed. The Second Circuit vacated. The court held that immunity under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. Section 1604, may attach when a defendant becomes an instrumentality of a foreign sovereign after a suit is filed. Further, the court explained that it was the U.S. designation of JTB as a terrorist organization, not any attempt by Lebanon to avoid this lawsuit, that forced the bank into liquidation and public receivership. View "Bartlett v. Baasiri" on Justia Law
Merritt v. USAA Federal Savings Bank
Gary and Jeanette Merritt own four residential properties in Marysville, Washington. Between 2005 and 2007, the Merritts opened five home equity lines of credit (HELOCs), executing five five promissory notes (notes or HELOC agreements) in favor of USAA Federal Savings Bank. The Merritts secured these loans by executing deeds of trust on the properties with USAA as the beneficiary. In November 2012, the Merritts filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The Merritts stopped making their monthly payments on the USAA loans prior to the November 2012 bankruptcy filing. USAA never accelerated any of the loans or acted to foreclose on the properties. In 2020, the Merritts filed four quiet title complaints seeking to remove USAA’s liens on each of the properties. Relying on Edmundson v. Bank of America, NA, 378 P.3d 272 (2016), the Merritts argued that the six-year statute of limitations to enforce the deeds of trust expired six years after February 12, 2013, the day before their bankruptcy discharge. In October 2020, the Merritts moved for summary judgment in each case. In November 2020, the trial court denied each of these motions. In February 2021, USAA moved for summary judgment in each case. USAA argued that the plaintiffs were not entitled to quiet title because the statute of limitations to foreclose on the deeds of trust would not begin to run until the maturity date of each loan, the earliest of which will occur in 2025. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court, holding that the the six-year statute of limitations had not begun to run on enforcement of the deeds of trust since none of the loans had yet matured. The issue this case presented for the Washington Supreme Court's review was whether a bankruptcy discharge triggered the statute of limitations to enforce a deed of trust. The Court affirmed the Court of Appeals and the trial court and hold that bankruptcy discharge did not trigger the statute of limitations to enforce a deed of trust. View "Merritt v. USAA Federal Savings Bank" on Justia Law
Copper Creek (Marysville) Homeowners Ass’n v. Kurtz
The property at issue in this case was a residential home that was purchased in 2007 by Shawn and Stephanie Kurtz. The house was located in a subdivision, which required property owners to pay homeowners association (HOA) assessments to petitioner Copper Creek (Marysville) Homeowners Association. If the assessments were not paid, then Copper Creek was entitled to foreclose on its lien. However, Copper Creek’s lien was “subordinate to any security interest perfected by a first deed of trust or mortgage granted in good faith and for fair value upon such Lot.” The Kurtzes stopped paying their HOA assessments and the home loan in varying times in 2010. The Kurtzes (in the process of divorcing) individually filed for bankruptcy. Neither returned to the house, nor did they make any further payments toward their home loan or their HOA assessments. However, there was no attempt to foreclose on the deed of trust. As a result, the house sat vacant for years and fell into disrepair. The Kurtzes remained the property owners of record and HOA assessments continued to accrue in their names. In 2018, Copper Creek recorded a notice of claim of lien for unpaid HOA assessments, fees, costs, and interest. In January 2019, Copper Creek filed a complaint against the Kurtzes seeking foreclosure on the lien and a custodial receiver for the property. The issue this case presented concerned the statute of limitations to foreclose on a deed of trust securing an installment loan after the borrower receives an order of discharge in bankruptcy. As detailed in Merritt v. USAA Federal Savings Bank, No. 100728-1 (Wash. July 20, 2023), the Washington Supreme Court held that a new foreclosure action on the deed of trust accrues with each missed installment payment, even after the borrower’s personal liability is discharged. Actions on written contracts are subject to a six-year statute of limitations. Therefore, the nonjudicial foreclosure action on the deed of trust in this case was timely commenced as to all unpaid installments within the preceding six years, regardless of the borrowers’ bankruptcy discharge orders. In addition, the Court held the trial court properly exercised its discretion to award fees as an equitable sanction for respondents’ litigation misconduct. View "Copper Creek (Marysville) Homeowners Ass'n v. Kurtz" on Justia Law
The branch of Citibank, N.A., established in the Republic of Argentina v.
Respondent is a former employee who won a judgment in Argentina's National Court of Labor Appeals against Citibank, N.A. Petitioner, the Argentinian branch of Citibank, N.A., filed a demand for arbitration with the American Arbitration Association and brought the proceedings below. The district court compelled arbitration, preliminarily enjoined the employee from enforcing the Argentinian judgment against Petitioner, and held Respondent in contempt of court. It also denied his motion to dismiss. The Second Circuit reversed and remanded. The court held that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the Petition. Therefore, the district court was without authority to issue its orders in this case. The court reversed the district court's orders -- including its order to compel arbitration, the preliminary injunction it entered against Respondent, its order finding Respondent in contempt, and its order requiring Respondent to pay the Branch's attorneys' fees and costs. The court concluded that because the Branch has not shown it enjoys independent legal existence and Citibank has not sought to substitute itself or join this action as the real party in interest, there has been no party adverse to Respondent. Without adverse parties, there can be no subject matter jurisdiction under Article III. View "The branch of Citibank, N.A., established in the Republic of Argentina v." on Justia Law
Smith, et al. v. FRS
The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System brought an enforcement action against Petitioners Frank Smith and Mark Kiolbasa, who were employees at Farmers State Bank at the time, after finding they committed misconduct at Central Bank & Trust where they had previously worked. This resulted in their removal as officers and directors of Farmers Bank and the imposition of restrictions on their abilities to serve as officers, directors, or employees of other banks in the future. Petitioners sought review from the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that the Board did not have authority to bring this enforcement action against them because the Board was not the “appropriate Federal banking agency,” as defined by 12 U.S.C. § 1813(q)(3), with authority over the bank where the misconduct took place. After review, the Tenth Circuit concluded that, because the Board had authority over Petitioners at the time the action commenced, the Board was an appropriate federal banking agency and had authority to initiate the proceeding. The appellate court also declined to review Petitioners’ Appointments Clause challenge because they did not raise it at trial. View "Smith, et al. v. FRS" on Justia Law