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Posts by: Aaron Rubin

NCUA Enters $445 Million Settlement with UBS in Lawsuit Alleging Untrue Statements in Connection with Sale of RMBS

 

On April 25, 2017, the National Credit Union Administration (“NCUA“), as liquidating agent for U.S. Central Federal Credit Union and Western Corporate Federal Credit Union, voluntarily dismissed its complaint against UBS Securities, LLC (“UBS“) and Mortgage Asset Securitization, Inc., in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas following a settlement between the parties. Under the terms of the settlement, UBS agreed to pay $445 million to end the NCUA’s five-year old lawsuit (the filing of the lawsuit was covered here). The NCUA’s suit involved claims for losses suffered by the two failed credit unions from allegedly untrue statements and omissions of fact by UBS regarding RMBS that it underwrote and sold. This settlement is in addition to the $79.3 million the NCUA also recovered from UBS in April 2016 for RMBS losses suffered by two other defunct credit unions. Voluntary Dismissal.

Wells Fargo Wins Summary Judgment Motion on All Claims Brought by German Bank LBBW Luxemburg

 

On March 30, 2017, Judge J. Paul Oetken granted Defendants Wells Fargo Securities LLC (“Wells Fargo“), f/k/a Wachovia Capital Markets LLC (“Wachovia“), and Fortis Securities LLC’s motion for summary judgment, dismissing the remaining causes of action and closing the case in LBBW Luxemburg S.A. v. Wells Fargo Securities LLC in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

In a prior motion to dismiss order in 2014, the Court granted in part Defendants’ motion to dismiss, “keeping alive” only one theory of liability brought by LBBW. That remaining theory was that Wachovia’s internal valuation markdown of the Grand Avenue II (“GAII“) CDO Preference Shares, for which Defendants had served as some of the initial purchasers, on the same day it issued those shares allegedly signaled Wachovia’s potential misrepresentation or omission to purchasers of other GAII’s securities. Plaintiffs argued this markdown supported a plausible inference that Wachovia knowingly misrepresented the value of CDO shares and constituted circumstantial evidence of conscious misbehavior.

In its ruling, the Court held that LBBW failed to show that it conveyed its right to sue to another German entity, Landesbank, when the two companies merged in 2014, and therefore failed to establish standing.

Judge Oetken also found that LBBW failed to overcome the motion for summary judgment on the merits. The Court found that LBBW’s single surviving theory of liability was unsupported by the record, as discovery in the case had not produced evidence to connect the markdown to any secretly held view by Wells Fargo that GAII’s portfolio of assets was in trouble.

The Court also rejected the fraud claims brought against Defendants, finding that LBBW failed to point to specific evidence as to a misrepresentation or material omission on Defendants’ part based on the single surviving theory. Judge Oetken also dismissed constructive fraud and negligent misrepresentation claims against Defendants, concluding again that there was a lack of evidence to support any misrepresentation, an essential element of both claims. Finally, the Court found that LBBW’s breach of contract claim, which alleged that Defendants agreed to notify it of any material changes to the CDO’s capital structure, must fail, as the “evidence establishes beyond genuine dispute that the internal markdown on the Preference Shares was not related to any change in Wachovia’s view of GAII’s underlying portfolio of assets.”

In addition to granting Defendants’ motion for summary judgment, Judge Oetken also denied LBBW’s motion to supplement the summary judgment record as untimely; LBBW’s motion to strike certain of Defendants’ arguments; and LBBW’s motion for adverse inference sanctions. Opinion.

SDNY Grants Defendant GreenPoint Mortgage Summary Judgment

 

On March 29, 2017, Judge Andrew L. Carter, Jr., of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York granted Defendant GreenPoint Mortgage Funding, Inc.’s (“GreenPoint“) motion for summary judgment, dismissing all causes of action against it as time-barred and terminating the case in Lehman XS Trust et al. v. GreenPoint Mortgage Funding, Inc.

Plaintiff Trustee U.S. Bank National Association, on behalf of the Lehman XS Trust, Series 2006-GP2 (“GP2“), Lehman XS Trust, Series 2006-GP3 (“GP3“), and Lehman XS Trust, Series 2006-GP4 (“GP4“) (collectively, the “Trusts“), and Freddie Mac Conservator Federal Housing Finance Agency (collectively, “Plaintiffs“) brought consolidated claims against GreenPoint regarding GP2, GP3, and GP4. Plaintiffs alleged breach of contract and indemnification claims for specific performance and damages arising out of GreenPoint’s alleged breach of certain representations and warranties.

Citing N.Y. C.P.L.R. § 214(3), the Court first found that Plaintiffs’ breach of contract claims under the mortgage loan purchase agreements (“MLPA“) for all three Trusts were time-barred under New York state’s six-year statute of limitations for breach of contract actions. The Trusts’ respective MLPAs required GreenPoint to cure or repurchase the defective loans in the event that any of the mortgage loans breached these representations and warranties. The closing dates for the Trusts were as follows: GP2 on May 15, 2006; GP3 on June 15, 2006; and GP4 on July 17, 2006. FHFA filed summons with notice for GP2 on May 30, 2012; for GP3 on June 29, 2012; and for GP4 on July 30, 2012.

Judge Carter then rejected Plaintiffs’ indemnification claims arising out of GreenPoint’s alleged breaches of representations and warranties. Plaintiffs sought indemnification for its losses, costs, fees, and expenses arising out of and related to the breaches of GreenPoint’s representations and warranties. Since Plaintiffs did not face liability to a third party as a result of the alleged breaches, the Court held that Plaintiffs’ indemnification cause of action was “more appropriately characterized as one to recover losses incurred by breach of contract” and therefore also barred by the statute of limitations.

Finally, the Court dismissed as time-barred Plaintiffs’ newly alleged causes of action for breach of GreenPoint’s representations and warranties made in the Trusts’ Indemnification Agreements, which provide for indemnity to the Trusts and other entities for claims arising out of breaches of the representations and warranties made in the information provided by or on behalf of GreenPoint for inclusion in the Prospectus Supplements. Opinion.

SDNY Finds Three of Commerzbank AG’s RMBS Claims Against The Bank of New York Mellon Timely Under German Three-Year Statute of Limitations

 

On March 21, 2017, Judge George Daniels of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York partially granted and partially denied defendant’s motion to dismiss in Commerzbank AG v. The Bank of New York Mellon. With respect to the central breach of contract claims, Judge Daniels held that The Bank of New York Mellon (“BNYM”) had not carried its burden for dismissal under applicable German law, as it had failed to prove that Commerzbank AG had sufficient knowledge of each element of each of its claims with respect to each Trust, “such that it could have commenced [the] action with an expectation, or some prospect, of success,” three years prior to filing. The court also denied the BNYM’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim with respect to Commerzbank’s claims for breach of contract, and negligence for failure to avoid conflicts of interest. It granted BNYM’s motion to dismiss Commerzbank AG’s claims for the violation of the covenant of good faith, violation of the Streit Act, and breach of fiduciary duty. Memorandum Decision and Order.

SDNY Grants Trustees’ Motion to Dismiss Triaxx CDOs’ RMBS Claims for Lack of Standing

 

On March 21, 2017, Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a Memorandum and Order granting defendants’ motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ First Amended Complaint in Triaxx Prime CDO 2006-1, Ltd., et al. v. The Bank of New York Mellon and U.S. Bank, for lack of standing. In dismissing the claims, the court held that the plaintiff CDOs – certificateholders in several RMBS trusts for which the defendants, U.S. Bank and Bank of New York Mellon, serve as RMBS trustees – had ceded any right to initiate litigation on their own behalf when they assigned away “all . . . right, title and interest” in the underlying assets to their respective CDO indenture trustees. Judge Buchwald granted leave to file an amended complaint within thirty days so long as any such amended complaint explains how the plaintiffs’ cured the standing issue. Order and Memorandum.

RMBS Trustee Defeats Motion to Certify Class

 

On March 21, 2017, Judge Alison Nathan of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York denied plaintiff’s Motion to Certify Class without prejudice in Royal Park Investments SA/NV v. Deutsche Bank National Trust Company. In a text-only Order, Judge Nathan wrote that Royal Park failed to carry its burden to show that the proposed class is sufficiently ascertainable. The full Memorandum and Order will remain under seal for ten days while the parties confer as to which portions should be redacted prior to public filing. Order.

First Department Grants Summary Judgment Against RMBS Collateral Manager for Failure to Raise Issue of Fact Regarding Loss Causation

 

On March 2, 2017, the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department reversed a decision from the New York Supreme Court and dismissed a complaint filed by two hedge funds against the collateral manager of a $400 million collateralized debt obligation (“CDO“) investment. Plaintiff hedge funds Basis PAC-Rim Opportunity Fund (Master) and Basis Yield Alpha Fund (Master) (together, “Basis“) filed a lawsuit asserting fraud claims against defendant TCW Asset Management Company (“TCW“), which had served as the collateral manager for the Dutch Hill II CDO. Dutch Hill II was created to serve as an investment vehicle for the purpose of taking a net long position on extremely risky RMBS; TCW selected the assets for the Dutch Hill II portfolio and made representations to Basis about the viability of the subprime RMBS market. Basis purchased over $27 million of Dutch Hill II notes in 2007, but the notes were all but valueless following the housing crisis. In moving for summary judgment, TCW submitted expert evidence showing that the housing market crash would have caused Basis’s losses even if the collateral underlying the CDO had not been misrepresented, as Basis alleged. In response, Basis did not submit sufficient evidence rebutting that opinion or showing that any of the particular misrepresentations by TCW caused its losses. The Supreme Court had denied summary judgment, holding that there were issues of fact as to loss causation. The First Department reversed, concluding that by failing to rebut TCW’s evidence, Basis had not raised an issue of fact as to loss causation.  Opinion.

Moody’s to Pay $864 Million to U.S. Department of Justice & 21 States in Credit Rating Settlement

 

On January 13, 2017, Moody’s Corporation agreed to pay $864 million in a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice and 21 states in connection with the ratings agency’s credit rating work on residential mortgage‑backed securities and other products during the years leading up to the financial crisis. The settlement is comprised of a $437.5 million payment to the Department of Justice and $426.3 million to 21 states. The Statement of Facts accompanying the Settlement Agreement states that from 2004‑2010, Moody’s issued credit ratings of RMBS and CDOs, but that there were potential conflicts of interest in Moody’s “issuer‑fee‑based” business model, in which issuers paid Moody’s for their credit opinions. The settlement agreement does not constitute sanctions “for any act or practice of Moody’s.” In accordance with the settlement agreement, Moody’s agrees to maintain and adopt certain compliance measures that “promote the integrity and independence of Moody’s credit ratings” for a period of five years. Settlement Agreement. Statement of Facts. Moody’s Compliance Commitments.

First Department Affirms Partial Dismissal of RMBS Repurchase Claims

 

On December 29, 2016, the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department, in a 4‑1 decision, affirmed a 2015 New York Supreme Court order dismissing certain claims in an RMBS action brought by Trustee U.S. Bank National Association, solely in its capacity as Trustee of the J.P. Morgan Alternative Loan Trust 2007-A2 (the “Trustee“) against originator Greenpoint Mortgage Funding (“Greenpoint“). On May 31, 2013, the last day before the statute of limitations expired, the Trustee filed suit alleging that Greenpoint had breached certain representations and warranties with respect to mortgage loans that it originated. The Trustee, however, did not send out any breach notices until after it filed its action, and none of the breach notices provided for a 60‑day cure period, as required under the applicable Mortgage Loan Sale Agreement. The First Department affirmed the Supreme Court’s order dismissing the Trustee’s claims that Greenpoint was notified of breaching mortgages, but failed to cure. The panel held that the breach notices and the 60‑day cure period were conditions precedent to filing the lawsuit, and the breach notices could not “relate back because the inherent nature of a condition precedent to bringing suit is that it actually precedes the action.” The First Department, however, also affirmed the Supreme Court’s denial of Greenpoint’s motion to dismiss to the extent that the Trustee’s breach of contract claims were predicated on allegations of Greenpoint’s independent discovery of breaches. The First Department held that such allegations do not require breach notices to be sent before an action is commenced. The panel also held that allegations that Greenpoint created and had full access to the loan files, and therefore knew or should have known of the breaches, were sufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss. Order.

Deutsche Bank Settles DOJ RMBS Claims for $7.2 Billion

 

On December 23, 2016, Deutsche Bank AG (“Deutsche Bank“) announced that it had reached a settlement in principle with the United States Department of Justice (“DOJ“) to resolve possible civil claims arising from Deutsche Bank’s issuance and underwriting of RMBS in the years leading up to the financial crisis. The $7.2 billion settlement includes a $3.1 billion civil penalty, with an additional $4.1 billion paid in the form of consumer relief (including loan modifications and other types of borrower assistance).