Summary Judgment Denied in Monoline Insurer Lawsuit Against J.P. Morgan

On June 6, 2016, Justice Alan D. Scheinkman of the New York Supreme Court for Westchester County denied J.P. Morgan’s motion for summary judgment on MBIA’s fraudulent concealment claim. The court had previously granted summary judgment in favor of J.P. Morgan on MBIA’s fraud claim, but permitted MBIA to amend its complaint to add a fraudulent concealment claim that J.P. Morgan failed to disclose complete and accurate third-party due diligence results regarding the collateral underlying the securitization. First, Scheinkman rejected J.P. Morgan’s argument that it did not owe MBIA an affirmative duty to disclose the results of the due diligence review. The Court held that the bid letter between J.P. Morgan and MBIA evinced a contractual relationship between the parties, and that even in the absence of such a relationship, J.P. Morgan was acting as an agent for the deal’s sponsor, who was obligated to share the due diligence results with MBIA.  Second, Scheinkman held that issues of fact precluded summary judgment on actual reliance, because withholding, disguising the significance, and delivering an altered version of due diligence results may have thwarted MBIA’s ability to protect itself.  Last, the Court held that whether MBIA justifiably relied on J.P. Morgan’s failure to disclose the due diligence results is a question for the jury.  Decision & Order.

New York Court Orders BlackRock to Seek Discovery from Former Certificateholders and Produce That Information in Suit Against RMBS Trustee

On June 3, 2016, Judge Sarah Netburn of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ordered BlackRock, an RMBS certificateholder that has sued the RMBS trustee, HSBC, to identify and serve document subpoenas on the former owners of BlackRock’s RMBS certificates. BlackRock’s lawsuit against HSBC (which we previously discussed here) asserts several causes of action arising out of HSBC’s alleged failure to fulfill its contractual, statutory, and fiduciary obligations as Trustee. HSBC argued in its motion to compel production that the requested documents from the former owners are directly relevant to proving HSBC’s affirmative defenses and showing that BlackRock lacks standing to assert the litigation rights of the prior certificateholders.  The Court agreed, holding that BlackRock cannot assert the litigation rights of the prior certificateholders without assuming the corresponding discovery obligation.  Order.

FDIC Settles RMBS Litigation for $190 Million with U.S. Financial Institutions

On May 26, 2016, the FDIC reached a $190 million settlement of RMBS claims against eight financial institutions, including Barclays Capital Inc.; Deutsche Bank Securities Inc.; Goldman, Sachs & Co; RBS Securities Inc.; and UBS Securities LLC. The settlement resolves six separate suits brought in 2011 and 2012 in California and Alabama alleging misrepresentations within the defendant underwriters’ RMBS offering documents.  The FDIC, as a receiver, will distribute the settlement funds among five failed bank receiverships.  FDIC Settlement Agreement.

Tennessee Chancery Court Denies Motion to Dismiss $164 Million RMBS Suit Brought by Tennessee Pension Fund

On May 24, 2016, Chancellor Carol L. McCoy of the Chancery Court for Davidson County, Tennessee, declined to dismiss claims brought by the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System (“TCRS”) against several large financial institutions related to $164 million in alleged losses on mortgage-backed securities.  The banks argued that the case was barred by the three-year statute of limitation for common law fraud claims in Tennessee and the two-year limit for claims under the Tennessee Securities Act.  Invoking the doctrine of nullum tempus occurit regni (“no time runs against the king”), however, the court held that limitations periods do not apply to the state or its political arms, such as TCRS.  The court also held that TCRS adequately alleged the elements of its fraud, constructive fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and Tennessee Securities Act claims. Order.

HSBC Sues Merrill Lynch and Bank of America for $420 Million Relating to RMBS Deal

On May 24, 2016, HSBC Bank USA, N.A., in its capacity as Trustee of Merrill Lynch Alternative Note Asset Trust, Series 2007-0AR5 (“the Trust”), served a summons with notice on Merrill Lynch Mortgage Lending, Inc. (“Merrill”), Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. (“Countrywide”), and Bank of America, N.A. (“BofA”), in their respective capacities as sponsor, originator, and servicer of the Trust, alleging that the three Defendants discovered that mortgage loans securitized in the Trust breached certain representations and warranties and failed to notify the Trustee in accord with their contractual obligations.  Specifically, HSBC alleges that Merrill, Countrywide, and BofA discovered the breaches through (i) the performance of their respective roles as issuer, originator, and servicer; and (ii) through their participation in multiple government investigations related to the origination, securitization, and servicing or mortgage loans.  The summons with notice seeks $420 million in damages. Summons with Notice.

Second Circuit Overturns Fraud Judgment against Bank of America and Former Countrywide Executive

On May 23, 2016, a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a judgment of fraud against Bank of America, Countrywide, and former Countrywide executive Rebecca Mairone in U.S. v Countrywide Home Loans, Inc.  In reversing the District Court and ruling for the Defendants, the Second Circuit vacated a $1.27 billion judgment against Bank of America and a $1 million judgment against Ms. Mairone.  The Second Circuit panel held that the evidence at trial showed at most an intentional breach of contract, which is insufficient as a matter of law to constitute fraud under the federal mail and wire fraud statutes.  Instead, to support a claim, the government was required, but failed, to prove that defendants’ intent at the time of contracting was not to comply with their contractual obligations.  Orrick represented Ms. Mairone in connection with the appeal. Opinion.

Federal Appellate Court Reinstates RMBS Action Against Moody’s

On May 2, 2016, the First Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated a $5.9B suit brought by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston (“FHLBB”), alleging that Moody’s Corp and Moody’s Investor’s Service, Inc. (together, “Moody’s”) knowingly provided false ratings on certain Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities purchased by FHLBB. The case had been dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction by Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. of the District of Massachusetts, who also held that the court could not transfer the case to another federal court where jurisdiction would be proper because 28 U.S.C. §1631 only permitted the transfer of cases dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, rather than personal jurisdiction.

The First Circuit vacated that decision, concluding that the plain language of 28 U.S.C. §1631, the statute’s legislative history, and case law from other Circuits all weighed in favor of a ruling that the statute also permits transfer where the claims at issue were dismissed on either personal or subject matter jurisdiction grounds. Accordingly, the First Circuit remanded the case to the district court to determine whether transfer was “in the interests of justice,” in accord with the statutory requirement for transfer under 28 U.S.C. §1631.  Decision.

Bank of America Settles RMBS Actions for $190 Million

On April 25, 2016, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle (“FHLBS”) agreed to a $190 million settlement with Bank of America in connection with multiple lawsuits filed in 2010 stemming from the sale of hundreds of millions of dollars of RMBS.  FHLBS alleged that Bank of America made misstatements or omissions in connection with the issuance of the RMBS in violation of the Washington State Securities Act.  Additional details of the settlement are not publicly available.

Second Circuit Reverses and Remands Trial Court’s Summary Judgment Order in Favor of Morgan Stanley in a CMBS Case

On April 27, 2016, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals vacated and remanded the district court’s summary judgment order entered in favor of defendant Morgan Stanley Mortgage Capital, Inc. in the Southern District of New York.  Plaintiff Bank of New York Mellon Trust Company, N.A., as trustee of a CMBS deal, alleged that Morgan Stanley breached an environmental conditions contract representation, requiring Morgan Stanley to repurchase an $81 million mortgage loan.  The Second Circuit reversed the trial court’s conclusion that Morgan Stanley was not contractually obligated to repurchase the mortgage loan because the Trustee’s duty to give “notice of cure” within three business days of becoming aware of a material breach was a condition precedent to Morgan Stanley’s repurchase obligation.  The Second held that a request to cure a material breach was not a condition precedent under the contract.  In so holding, the Second Circuit distinguished between the Mortgage Loan Purchase Agreement’s separate obligations of “notice of breach” and “request to cure.”  As to the “request to cure” obligation, the Court found nothing that made it clear that Morgan Stanley’s remedy obligation does not arise until a request for cure is made.  The Court remanded the case to the trial court to reassess the timeliness of the Trustee’s notice for cure, which was a fact issue that must be presented to the factfinder at trial to determine when the Special Servicer concluded its investigation.  In addition, because request for cure is not a condition precedent, the jury would have to decide the question of substantial performance.  The Court held that a reasonable jury could find that, even if there was some delay in requesting cure, it could determine that substantial performance occurred. Decision.

Justice Friedman of the New York Supreme Court Dismisses Two FHFA Repurchase Actions

On April 12, 2016, Justice Marcy Friedman of the New York Supreme Court granted motions to dismiss in two RMBS breach of contract actions filed by FHFA against Morgan Stanley ABS Capital I Inc. (“MSAC”) and Morgan Stanley Mortgage Capital Holdings LLC (“Morgan Stanley”).  In the decisions, he Court dismissed the actions on similar grounds and granted the parties the opportunity to brief claims for failure to notify, in light of the October 13, 2015 First Department’s decision in Nomura Home Equity Loan Inc. Series 2006-FM2 et al. v. Nomura Credit & Capital Inc.

Like Justice Friedman’s ruling last month in ACE Securities v. DB Structured Products, Inc., which we previously covered, the Court held that both actions were not rendered untimely by the Plaintiff’s failure to file repurchase demand condition precedent prior to the filing of the summons with notice.  However, the FHFA, as certificate holder, lacked standing to commence the action and thus the Trustee’s cause of action was untimely because it did not relate back to the FHFA’s summons with notice.  In so holding, the Court rejected the Trustee’s arguments in both cases that the action was timely commenced, and also that the accrual clause in the RMBS extended the statute of limitations, and that the federal Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, applicable to certain actions brought by FHFA, extended the limitations period.  Finally, the Court also held that no tolling agreements saved Trustee’s claims, and also dismissed the causes of action for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, breach of repurchase obligations, and anticipatory breach. Decision 116. Decision 134.