Bank of America

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.

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.

Bank of America and Midland Settle RMBS Litigation

On September 8, 2015, Bank of America NA and Midland Loan Services settled Bank of America’s lawsuit seeking a declaratory judgment that it did not breach the representations and warranties in connection with a CMBS securitization and, consequently, did not need to repurchase loans from the securitization.  As a result of the settlement, the lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice.  The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.  Dismissal Order.

US Bank and Bank of America Prevail on Motions to Dismiss

On May 18, 2015, Judge Katherine Forrest of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed claims in two suits brought by private investors and the National Credit Union Association, respectively, against U.S. Bank and Bank of America in their capacity as trustees for RMBS trusts.  The lawsuits asserted several causes of action arising out of the trustees’ alleged failure to fulfill their contractual, statutory, and fiduciary obligations to hundreds of RMBS trusts.

In the first case, brought by a number of institutional investors led by BlackRock, Judge Forrest dismissed claims brought under the federal Trust Indenture Act as to 810 of the 843 trusts at issue because they were governed by Pooling and Servicing Agreements (“PSAs”), rather than indentures, and the TIA does not apply to PSA trusts.  She declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims asserted in connection with the 810 PSA Trusts, holding that allowing 33 indenture trusts to pull in another 810 would allow “a federal tail to wag a state dog.”  For the remaining 33 indenture trusts, Judge Forrest dismissed the claims because the plaintiffs failed to make a demand on the proper party (the “Owner Trustee”) or allege any that such demand would have been futile.  Judge Forrest granted plaintiffs leave to amend as to the indenture trusts.  Order.

In the second case, brought by NCUA, Judge Forrest dismissed claims as to 74 out of the 82 Trusts at issue on standing grounds.  Judge Forrest held that the Amended Complaint failed to demonstrate that NCUA retained any right to sue when it re-securitized its certificates in the 74 trusts as part of the NCUA Guaranteed Note Program.  She rejected NCUA’s statutory standing argument, holding that 12 U.S.C. § 1787 does not authorize NCUA to sue on behalf of separate statutory trusts created to re-securitize the CCUs’ assets.  Additionally, Judge Forrest held that the PSAs did not allow third party beneficiary status to extend beyond direct certificateholders, meaning that NCUA no longer had standing once it ceased being a certificateholder following the re-securitization.  Order.

Prudential Settles $2B RMBS Suit with Bank of America and Merrill Lynch & Co.

On April 22, 2015, Bank of America and Merrill Lynch reached an agreement with several Prudential Insurance Co. affiliates to settle two lawsuits brought by Prudential.  Prudential had alleged that Bank of America and Merrill Lynch made false statements about the quality of $2.1 billion worth of residential mortgage backed securities they sold to Prudential.  The parties filed a stipulation of dismissal with prejudice but the settlement terms are otherwise undisclosed.  Stipulation.

Bank of America Settles RMBS Suit

On April 2, 2015, plaintiffs BNP Paribas Mortgage Corporation and BNP Paribas and defendant Bank of America filed a Joint Stipulation of Dismissal with Prejudice stating that both parties had reached an agreement to settle claims arising out of Bank of America’s handling of $480.7 million worth of mortgage-backed notes issued by Taylor Bean and Whitaker’s Ocala Funding LLC.  Plaintiffs Complaint alleged that Bank of America, which served as agent, custodian, depositor, and Indentured Trustee of the Ocala facility, failed to live up to its contractual obligations to secure and protect the cash and mortgage loans collateralizing the notes.  The details of the settlement are not yet public.  Joint Stipulation.

RMBS Fraud Claims Against Bank of America Dismissed

On February 6, 2015, Judge Stanley Chesler of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey granted in part and denied in part Bank of America’s motions to dismiss two related cases filed against it by several Prudential Insurance Company affiliates.  Prudential asserted common law fraud, misrepresentation, and RICO claims against several Bank of America entities arising out of Prudential’s investment in $1.9 billion in RMBS.  Judge Chesler dismissed Prudential’s fraud claim, holding that Prudential failed to adequately allege falsity and/or scienter in connection with alleged misstatements concerning occupancy status, appraisals, and credit ratings.  He also held that, for the 21 securitizations at issue for which Bank of America served as underwriter only, Prudential failed to allege with the required specificity which Bank of America entity made which challenged representations.  Judge Chesler dismissed both of Prudential’s negligent misrepresentation claims.  He granted Prudential limited leave to amend in connection with the fraud claim relating to those securitizations for which Bank of America served as underwriter only.  Opinion.

Phoenix Light Sues Five RMBS Trustees Over $2.4 Billion in RMBS

On December 23 and 24, Phoenix Light SF Limited and other RMBS certificateholders filed suit against HSBC, Wells Fargo, Deutsche Bank, Bank of New York Mellon, U.S. Bank, and Bank of America in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York regarding $2.4 billion in RMBS. The complaints assert causes of action under the Trust Indenture Act and a provision of the New York Real Property Law known as the Streit Act, as well as under state law for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, gross negligence, and negligent misrepresentation. Plaintiffs allege that the trustees breached their duties under the governing trust agreements by failing to notify the investors of deficiencies in the loans, failing to take action to address those alleged deficiencies, and failing to require the repurchase of defective loans. Plaintiffs seek compensatory damages and unspecified equitable relief.  HSBC ComplaintWells Fargo ComplaintDeutsche Bank ComplaintBNY Mellon ComplaintU.S. Bank and Bank of America Complaint.

Ambac Sues Countrywide For Alleged Fraud in Connection with $1.7 Billion in RMBS

On December 27, Ambac Assurance Corporation filed a complaint against several Countrywide entities and Bank of America Corporation in New York state court, seeking to recover at least $600 million in damages in connection with claims payments Ambac allegedly made under insurance policies it issued on eight RMBS trusts. Ambac alleges that between 2005 and 2007, Countrywide made false and misleading statements at meetings with Ambac and in prospectus supplements and loan tapes issued in connection with the trusts that induced Ambac to issue its insurance policies. Ambac asserts a cause of action for fraudulent inducement against the Countrywide entities and a cause of action for successor liability against Bank of America.  Complaint.