Justia U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Banking
by
The Second Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claims under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), alleging that Ocwen's failure to record her mortgage instruments and its actions in losing key mortgage documents constituted covered errors under the catch-all provision of Regulation X (RESPA's implementing regulation). In this case, plaintiff alleged that the errors committed by Ocwen in handling her loan modification documents were errors relating to servicing of a mortgage loan, and, consequently, were subject to the provisions of RESPA and Regulation X. The court concluded that plaintiffs' asserted errors are covered by the catch-all provision of Regulation X, which includes the terms "any other errors" and "relating to." Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Naimoli v. Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Banking, Consumer Law
by
This case stemmed from a multidistrict litigation alleging that some of the world's largest banks and affiliated entities conspired to suppress the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Plaintiffs appeal the district court's grant of defendants' motions to dismiss antitrust claims in 23 cases based on plaintiffs' lack of antitrust standing and/or based on lack of personal jurisdiction over defendants.The Second Circuit affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. The court agreed with the district court that plaintiffs who purchased LIBOR‐indexed bonds from third parties lack antitrust standing. The court explained that, to have antitrust standing, plaintiff must be an "efficient enforcer" of the antitrust laws whose alleged injury was proximately caused by a defendant. In this case, the third parties' independent decisions to reference that benchmark severed the causal chain linking plaintiffs' injuries to defendants' misconduct, thereby rendering plaintiffs unsuitable as efficient enforcers.However, the court disagreed with the district court's personal jurisdiction analysis and held that jurisdiction is appropriate under the conspiracy‐based theory first articulated by the court in Charles Schwab Corp. v. Bank of Am. Corp., 883 F.3d 68 (2d Cir. 2018), which post‐dated the district court's ruling. The court concluded that the facts alleged by plaintiffs – specifically, that executives and managers for several banks were directing the suppression of LIBOR from within the United States – were sufficient to establish personal jurisdiction over the banks under a conspiracy‐based theory of jurisdiction. View "In re LIBOR-based Financial Instruments Antitrust Litigation" on Justia Law

by
Halkbank, a commercial bank that is majority-owned by the Government of Turkey, was charged with crimes related to its participation in a multi-year scheme to launder billions of dollars' worth of Iranian oil and natural gas proceeds in violation of U.S. sanctions against the Government of Iran and Iranian entities and persons. Halkbank moved to dismiss the indictment but the district court denied the motionThe Second Circuit held that it has jurisdiction over the instant appeal under the collateral order doctrine. The court also held that, even assuming the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) applies in criminal cases—an issue that the court need not, and did not, decide today—the commercial activity exception to FSIA would nevertheless apply to Halkbank's charged offense conduct. Therefore, the district court did not err in denying Halkbank’s motion to dismiss the Indictment. The court further concluded that Halkbank, an instrumentality of a foreign sovereign, is not entitled to immunity from criminal prosecution at common law. View "United States v. Bankasi" on Justia Law

by
In 2013, Nike and its subsidiary, Converse, brought a trademark infringement action under the Lanham Act against hundreds of participants in Chinese counterfeiting networks. The district court entered five prejudgment orders, a default judgment, and one postjudgment order against defendants, who never appeared in court. Each order enjoined defendants and all persons acting in concert or in participation with any of them from transferring, withdrawing or disposing of any money or other assets into or out of defendants' accounts regardless of whether such money or assets are held in the U.S. or abroad. In 2019, Nike's successor-in-interest, Next, moved to hold appellees—six nonparty Chinese banks—in contempt for failure to implement the asset restraints and for failure to produce certain documents sought in discovery.The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Next's motion for contempt sanctions against the Banks because (1) until the contempt motion, Nike and Next never sought to enforce the asset restraints against the Banks; (2) there is a fair ground of doubt as to whether, in light of New York's separate entity rule and principles of international comity, the orders could reach assets held at foreign bank branches; (3) there is a fair ground of doubt as to whether the Banks' activities amounted to "active concert or participation" in defendants' violation of the asset restraints that could be enjoined under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65(d); and (4) Next failed to provide clear and convincing proof of a discovery violation. View "Next Investments, LLC v. Bank of China" on Justia Law

by
The Second Circuit vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment to plaintiff in a quiet title action regarding a property subject to a mortgage held by the bank. The district court, relying on a statement in Milone v. U.S. Bank, N.A., 164 A.D.3d 145 (2d Dep't 2018), held that U.S. Bank's purported de-acceleration was motivated only by a desire to avoid the expiration of the limitations period and was therefore insufficient to de-accelerate. While this appeal was pending, the New York Court of Appeals, in Freedom Mortgage Corp. v. Engel, 37 N.Y.3d 1 (2021), abrogated the proposition of Milone on which the district court relied. Therefore, this intervening decision undermined the reasoning of the district court. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "53rd Street, LLC v. U.S. Bank National Ass'n" on Justia Law

by
The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in favor of the government against defendants as co-executors of the estate of Harold Kahn, in the principal penalty amount of $4,264,728, plus statutory additions and interest, for Kahn's undisputedly willful failure, in violation of 31 U.S.C. 5314, to file in 2009 a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts ("FBAR") for his two foreign bank accounts whose balances, at the time of his failure to file, totaled $8,529,456. The Estate contends that the district court erred in refusing to limit the per-willful-violation maximum penalty for failure to file an FBAR to the $100,000-per-account maximum set by the 1987 Treasury Department Regulation, 31 C.F.R. 1010.820(g)(2).The court concluded that the district court correctly ruled that the penalty limitation provided in the 1987 regulation, which had tracked the penalty provision enacted in a prior version of the statute, was superseded by the 2004 statutory amendment to 31 U.S.C. 5321 increasing the penalty maximum. View "United States v. Kahn" on Justia Law

Posted in: Banking
by
The Superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) filed suit against the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the U.S. Comptroller of the Currency (together, the "OCC"), challenging the OCC's decision to begin accepting applications for special-purpose national bank (SPNB) charters from financial technology companies (fintechs) engaged in the "business of banking," including those that do not accept deposits. The district court ultimately entered judgment in favor of DFS, setting aside OCC's decision.The Second Circuit reversed, concluding that DFS lacks Article III standing because it failed to allege that OCC's decision caused it to suffer an actual or imminent injury in fact. The court explained that the Fintech Charter Decision has not implicated the sorts of direct preemption concerns that animated DFS's cited cases, and it will not do so until OCC receives an SPNB charter application from or grants such a charter to a non-depository fintech that would otherwise be subject to DFS's jurisdiction. The court was also unpersuaded that DFS faces a substantial risk of suffering its second alleged future injury—that it will lose revenue acquired through annual assessments. Because DFS failed to adequately allege that it has Article III standing to bring its Administrative Procedure Act claims against OCC, those claims must be dismissed without prejudice.The court also found that DFS's claims are constitutionally unripe for substantially the same reason. Finally, the court lacked jurisdiction to decide the remaining issues on appeal. Accordingly, the court remanded to the district court with instructions to enter a judgment of dismissal without prejudice. View "Lacewell v. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency" on Justia Law

by
The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's order denying the Bank's motion for judgment on the pleadings. The court held that state legislatures may create legally protected interests whose violation supports Article III standing, subject to certain federal limitations. The court also decided that the New York law violations alleged here constitute a concrete and particularized harm to plaintiffs in the form of both reputational injury and limitations in borrowing capacity over the nearly ten-month period during which their mortgage discharge was unlawfully not recorded and in which the Bank allowed the public record to reflect, falsely, that plaintiffs had an outstanding debt of over $50,000.The court further concluded that the Bank's failure to record plaintiffs' mortgage discharge created a material risk of concrete and particularized harm to plaintiffs by providing a basis for an unfavorable credit rating and reduced borrowing capacity. The court explained that these risks and interests, in addition to that of clouded title, which an ordinary mortgagor would have suffered (but plaintiffs did not), are similar to those protected by traditional actions at law. Therefore, plaintiffs have Article III standing and they may pursue their claims for the statutory penalties imposed by the New York Legislature, as well as other relief. Accordingly, the court affirmed and remanded. View "Maddox v. Bank of New York Mellon Trust Co." on Justia Law

by
The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the operative amended complaints in two actions seeking to hold defendant bank liable under the Antiterrorism Act of 1990 (ATA), for providing banking services to a charitable organization with alleged ties to Hamas, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) alleged to have committed a series of terrorist attacks in Israel in 2001-2004. The actions also seek to deny leave to amend the complaints to allege aiding-and-abetting claims under the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA).The court concluded that 18 U.S.C. 2333(a) principles announced in Linde v. Arab Bank, PLC, 882 F.3d 314 (2d Cir. 2018), were properly applied here. The court explained that, in order to establish NatWest's liability under the ATA as a principal, plaintiffs were required to present evidence sufficient to support all of section 2331(1)'s definitional requirements for an act of international terrorism. The court saw no error in the district court's conclusion that plaintiffs failed to proffer such evidence and thus NatWest was entitled to summary judgment dismissing those claims. The court also concluded that the district court appropriately assessed plaintiffs' request to add JASTA claims, given the undisputed evidence adduced, in connection with the summary judgment motions, as to the state of NatWest's knowledge. Therefore, based on the record, the district court did not err in denying leave to amend the complaints as futile on the ground that plaintiffs could not show that NatWest was knowingly providing substantial assistance to Hamas, or that NatWest was generally aware that it was playing a role in Hamas's acts of terrorism. The court dismissed the cross-appeal as moot. View "Weiss v. National Westminster Bank PLC" on Justia Law

by
The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment affirming the bankruptcy court's grant of defendants' motion to dismiss in an action arising out of the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. The bankruptcy court held that, in the context of synthetic collateralized debt obligations, certain "Priority Provisions" that subordinated LBSF's payment priority to claims of the Noteholder defendants are enforceable by virtue of section 560 of the Bankruptcy Code, which exempts "swap agreements" from the Code's prohibition of "ipso facto clauses."Like the district court, the court held that, even if the Priority Provisions were ipso facto clauses, their enforcement was nevertheless permissible under the section 560 safe harbor. The court explained that the Priority Provisions are incorporated by reference into the swap agreements and thus, for the purposes of section 560, are considered to be part of a swap agreement; the contractual right to liquidate included distributions made pursuant to Noteholder priority; the Trustees exercised a contractual right to effect liquidation when they distributed the proceeds of the sold Collateral; and, in doing so, the Trustees exercised the rights of a swap participant. Because the Priority of Payments clauses are enforceable under the Code, the court held that LBSF's state-law claims also fail. Finally, the district court and bankruptcy court correctly concluded that LBSF is not entitled to declaratory relief. View "Lehman Brothers Special Financing Inc. v. Bank of America N.A." on Justia Law

Posted in: Banking, Bankruptcy