Litigation

Lehman Estate Settles Claims By RMBS Insurer and Trustee

 

On September 20, 2016, Judge Shelley Chapman of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York approved the $37 million settlement of $1.3 billion in claims asserted against the estates of two defunct Lehman Brothers’ entities by Syncora Guarantee Inc. in its capacity as the insurer for certain certificates issued from the GMFT 2006-1 RMBS trust. After being sued by the GMFT 2006-1 Trustee for payment under the insurance policy, Syncora filed its own claim for indemnification against Lehman as sponsor of the securitization. In addition to settling Syncora’s claim, the agreement also releases Lehman from all potential claims brought by the GMFT 2006-1 Trustee, U.S. Bank NA, in exchange for Lehman’s cooperation in a separate lawsuit arising from GreenPoint Mortgage Funding Inc.’s alleged failure to repurchase defective loans. Settlement Order. Settlement Agreement Submitted For Approval.

SDNY Court Appoints Lead Master to Review 9,300 UBS Loans for Material Breach Following UBS Putback Trial

 

On September 6, 2016, following a 3-week long bench trial in May, U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel of the Southern District of New York held that he will appoint a Lead Master to determine whether there are “material breaches” in 9,300 loans at issue in putback litigation against UBS. In its 239-page post-trial decision, after addressing a number of issues and discussing 20 loans, the Court appointed a Lead Master to examine each loan on an individual basis and prepare recommended findings and conclusions on liability.

The Court outlined Plaintiff’s burden of proof for breach of underwriting guidelines, holding that the Plaintiff must demonstrate it is more likely than not that the loan was not originated in compliance with the relevant underwriting guidelines, unless an exception was actually exercised, in a reasonable manner, at the time of origination. Plaintiffs will then be required to prove a breach has a “material and adverse” effect at the time UBS’s repurchase obligation was triggered. The Court held this can be shown: (1) by proving an increased risk of loss to certificateholders; (2) with evidence that a breach resulted in altered loan terms; or (3) through a showing of layered risk and/or the cumulative effect of multiple breaches. The Court held that discovery of a breach cannot be based on constructive knowledge. Instead, Plaintiffs must show actual knowledge, which may be established by circumstantial evidence, or willful blindness. Memorandum and Court Order.

Court Denies Summary Judgment on Issues of Timeliness in NCUA RMBS Suit

 

On September 1, 2016, Judge John W. Lungstrum of the U.S. District of Kansas denied cross-motions for summary judgment on the issue of timeliness brought by RBS, Nomura and the NCUA in NCUA v. RBS Securities, et al. NCUA alleges in its 2011 complaint that it suffered losses of $800 million on 2006-2007 vintage RMBS certificates based on misstatements by the defendants. Defendants RBS and Nomura argued on summary judgment that NCUA’s claims must be dismissed because they were not brought within one year after discovering the allegedly untrue statement or omission, or after such discovery should have been reasonably made. NCUA argued in opposition that it did not have constructive notice of the facts underlying its claims by the relevant dates and that its claims were timely. The Court found that “a jury could reasonably find in favor” of either party as to what a “reasonably diligent investor would have known and done in 2007 and 2008 on the timeliness issue” and that as a result fact questions remained precluding summary judgment for either side. Memorandum and Court Order.

MassMutual and RBS Settle RMBS Litigation

On August 12, 2016, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. (“MassMutual”) and RBS jointly moved to dismiss MassMutual’s $235 million RMBS claim, stating that the parties had reached a confidential settlement agreement. MassMutual filed the lawsuit in 2011, alleging violations of the Massachusetts Uniform Securities Act.  MassMutual claimed that the defendants made material misrepresentations about the characteristics of mortgage loans that RBS securitized in transactions in which MassMutual invested between 2005 and 2007.  The court entered a final dismissal order on August 15, 2016.  Joint Motion of Dismissal. Order of Dismissal. MassMutual settled similar claims against Barclays Capital Inc. on March 29, 2016 (covered here).

Ninth Circuit Revives RMBS Claims against Nomura

On August 15, 2016, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the Central District of California’s order dismissing claims brought by the National Credit Union Administration Board (“NCUA”), as liquidating agent of Western Corporate Federal Credit Union (“Wescorp”), against Nomura Home Equity Loan, Inc. (“Nomura”) under the Securities Act of 1933.  In 2014, the district court granted Nomura’s motion to dismiss claims that it had made materially false and misleading statements in the offering documents in respect of certificates sold to Wescorp in 2006 and 2007, holding that the NCUA’s claims were barred by the statute of repose established in Section 13 of the 1933 Act, which runs three years after the securities were offered or sold.  The Ninth Circuit disagreed with the district court, concluding that both the text and the legislative purpose of the Extender Statute in the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 (“FIRREA”) indicate that Congress intended it to supplant the 1933 Act statute of repose and to further a policy of “protecting the government’s right to recovery.” Opinion at 13.  The Ninth Circuit further concluded that, although the text of the Extender Statute only mentions contract and tort claims, because its dictate is to cover “all actions” brought by the NCUA, it also applies to statutory claims, such as the 1933 Act claims at issue in this case.  Thus, the Ninth Circuit held that the NCUA’s claims against Nomura are not time-barred and remanded the case to the Central District for further proceedings. Summary.

 

New York Intermediate Appellate Court Holds that Accrual Provision Does Not Save RMBS Trustee’s Time-Barred Putback Claim

 

On August 11, 2016, the First Department of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York affirmed dismissal of an action brought by Deutsche Bank National Trust Company, as RMBS Trustee, against Quicken Loans, Inc. Following the New York Court of Appeals decision in the closely-followed case of ACE Securities Corp., Home Equity Loan Trust, Series 2006-SL2 v. DB Structured Products, Inc. (covered here) – which held that a breach of contract claim in an RMBS putback action accrues on the date the representations and warranties are made – the First Department concluded Deutsche Bank’s action was time-barred, notwithstanding the presence of an accrual provision in the transaction documents that might have otherwise delayed the accrual of putback claims indefinitely. The decision holds that such accrual provisions are unenforceable attempts to extend the statute of limitations. Order.

New York Appellate Court Allows Fraud Claim to Proceed Against Morgan Stanley

On August 11, 2016, the First Department of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York affirmed a trial court ruling that investor-plaintiff IKB International to proceed with claims that RMBS sponsor and underwriter Morgan Stanley knowingly misrepresented loans’ credit quality and characteristics. The Court affirmed a ruling that justifiable reliance was adequately pleaded as the complaint contained allegations that (i) plaintiffs hired investment advisors to analyze the offering documents for the 18 RMBS deals at issue; and (ii) plaintiffs lacked the access to (and the ability to demand) loan files prior to purchase.

Additionally, the Court agreed that the plaintiffs adequately pleaded the fraud element of scienter by alleging that Morgan Stanly learned about the loans’ defects during the course of its own due diligence reviews, and in its role as underwriter. Order.

New York Appellate Court Reverse Lower Court, Allows RMBS Action to Proceed Against Morgan Stanley

 

On August 11, 2016, the First Department of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York reversed the lower court, allowing RMBS Trustee U.S. Bank to proceed with claims against Morgan Stanley in connection with alleged losses of $140 million resulting from the sale of allegedly defective loans. Following its own ruling from last year (covered here), the First Department again concluded that the alleged failure to notify securitization counterparties of breaches of representations and warranties constitutes a viable cause of action independent from claims arising from the alleged breaches themselves. The First Department also reversed dismissal of the plaintiff’s gross negligence claims noting that – notwithstanding language in the governing contract’s sole remedy provision – the law does not permit a party to insulate itself from paying for damages arising from its grossly negligent conduct. Order.

WMC Settles $1 Billion RMBS Suit During Pendency Of Appeal

 

On August 9, 2016, RMBS trustee Deutsche Bank National Trust Company and WMC Mortgage, LLC, filed a joint motion to stay an appeal pending in the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The parties requested the stay to allow them time to finalize the settlement of a lawsuit alleging that WMC misrepresented the quality of loans it sold in a $1 billion 2006 RMBS offering. The trial court had previously dismissed the lawsuit in 2015 (covered here) as time-barred under New York’s six-year statute of limitations. Joint Motion.

New York Court Dismisses Repurchase Claims Against UBS as Untimely

On July 27, 2016, Justice Marcy Friedman of the New York Supreme Court for New York County, in accordance with other recent decisions (covered here and here) dismissed an action against UBS Real Estate Securities, Inc.  The case was initially brought by Federal Housing Finance Agency (“FHFA”), as conservator of an RMBS certificateholder.  It was then pursued by the trustee after the limitations period expired.  Because FHFA lacked standing to bring claims for breaches of loan-level representations and warranties, the Court held that the trustee’s claims do not “relate back” to the date of FHFA’s initial filing for statute of limitations purposes.  The court will permit briefing on the viability of claims for failure to notify the trustee of alleged breaches of representations and warranties.  Decision.