Trust Indenture Act

SDNY Dismisses FDIC Claims for Lack of Standing Again

 

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver for Guaranty Bank brought claims against The Bank of New York Mellon, U.S. National Bank Association, and Citibank, N.A. alleging breach of contract, violation of the Streit Act, and violation of the Trust Indenture Act for allegedly failing to carry out their duties as trustees. Judge Carter dismissed the same claims in September of 2016 for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, holding that the FDIC lacked standing to sue because the FDIC had sold its ownership of the certificates at issue in 2010 to Wilmington Trust Co., as owner trustee, with Citibank acting in as indenture trustee. The Court had held that after that sale, the plaintiff’s claims had travelled with the securities to the resecuritized trust and thus the plaintiff no longer had standing to bring the claims it asserted. The Court had granted leave to amend the complaint to permit FDIC to resolve the standing issues by seeking ratification of the claims by the trust pursuant to FRCP 17(a)(3). After the 2016 dismissal, Wilmington Trust ratified the claims, but Citibank refused to ratify the claims without indemnity from FDIC. As a result, the standing issues remained unresolved, and the court dismissed the claims once again for lack of subject matter jurisdiction without prejudice. Decision.

Claims Against RMBS Trustee U.S. Bank Partially Dismissed

On February 26, Judge Katherine B. Forrest of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York denied U.S. Bank N.A.’s (“U.S. Bank”) motion to dismiss claims for breach of contract and violation of the Trust Indenture Act (“TIA”) with regard to the 27 trusts that remain before the Court after it previously declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over claims arising from an additional 810 trusts.  Orrick covered that decision here. The Court dismissed plaintiffs’ claims for breach of fiduciary duty and extra-contractual duties under the economic loss doctrine, but did not dismiss plaintiffs’ TIA-based claim, holding that the statute provides plaintiffs with a private right of action.  Judge Forrest also held that the Indentures’ no-action clauses have no effect in suits against RMBS trustees, rejecting U.S. Bank’s attempt to dismiss all claims against it on the basis of plaintiffs’ non-compliance with those provisions.  Opinion and 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.

Motion to Dismiss Action Against RMBS Trustee Denied

On March 31, 2015, Judge Shira Scheindlin of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York denied HSBC Bank USA, National Association’s (“HSBC”) motion to dismiss an action brought by a consortium of investors in RMBS for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.  The plaintiffs’ Complaint alleges, inter alia, that HSBC failed to discharge its duties as Trustee for 271 RMBS Trusts in violation of the Trustee Indenture Act (“TIA”) and state common law.  Because the TIA governs only 27 of the 271 Trusts at issue, the plaintiffs invoked supplemental jurisdiction as the basis for the court to hear the claims as to the remaining 244 Trusts.  Judge Scheindlin denied HSBC’s motion, holding that the plaintiffs’ claims all arise from the “same nucleus of operative fact” because the relevant governing agreements all contain substantially similar contract provisions and impose similar duties on HSBC in its capacity as Trustee.  Judge Scheindlin added that judicial economy would be served by retaining supplemental jurisdiction as proof of both the TIA and non-TIA claims would require depositions of many of the same witnesses.  Order.

NCUA Sues HSBC For Alleged Breaches of Duties as Trustee for 37 RMBS Trusts

On March 20, the National Credit Union Administration Board, acting as liquidating agent for five failed credit unions, filed suit against HSBC USA in the Eastern District Court of Virginia.  NCUA alleged that HSBC breached its duties as trustee for 37 RMBS trusts from which the credit unions had purchased $2.37 billion in certificates.  In particular, NCUA alleges that HSBC failed to enforce loan originators’ repurchase obligations in connection with alleged breaches of representations and warranties about the loans in the trusts, failed to prudently address servicer or master servicer defaults, and failed to ensure proper conveyance of the loan files to the trusts.  NCUA asserts claims for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, negligent misrepresentation, breach of the covenant of good faith, violation of the Streit Act, and violation of the Trust Indenture Act.  Complaint.

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.

NCUA Sues U.S. Bank and Bank of America for Allegedly Failing to Comply with RMBS Trustee Duties

On December 16, National Credit Union Administration filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York against U.S. Bank N.A. and Bank of America N.A., in their capacity as trustees for 99 RMBS trusts. NCUA filed the suit as liquidating agent for five failed credit unions collectively alleged to have purchased certificates in the trusts at issue. NCUA alleges that U.S. Bank and Bank of America breached their duties under the governing trust agreements by failing to properly review and monitor the loans backing the RMBS, 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. The complaint asserts causes of action under the Trust Indenture Act and the Streit Act, a New York statute that governs administration of mortgage trusts, and seeks compensatory damages and unspecified equitable relief.  Complaint.

U.S. Bank Reaches $6 Million Settlement of Claims for Breach of RMBS Trustee Duties

On December 17, the parties in Oklahoma Police Pension and Retirement System v. U.S. Bank, N.A., No. 11-cv-8066 (S.D.N.Y.) asked the court to approve a $6 million settlement of class action claims asserted against U.S. Bank in its capacity as trustee for five RMBS trusts sponsored by Bear Stearns. The class consisted of 1,800 investors who had bought certificates in the trusts. Claims related to nine other trusts had been dismissed earlier in the litigation and were not included in the settlement. The complaint included claims for breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and violation of the federal Trust Indenture Act.  Motion for ApprovalSettlement Agreement.

NCUA Sues Wells Fargo for Allegedly Failing to Comply with RMBS Trustee Duties

On December 22, National Credit Union Administration sued Wells Fargo, as an RMBS trustee, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. NCUA filed the suit in its capacity as liquidating agent for five credit unions, collectively alleged to have purchased $2.4 billion in 27 RMBS trusts for which Wells Fargo served as trustee. NCUA alleges that Wells Fargo breached its duties under the governing trust agreements by failing to properly review and monitor the loans underlying the RMBS, 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. The complaint asserts causes of action under the Trust Indenture Act and a provision of the New York Real Property Law known as the Streit Act.  Complaint.

Second Circuit Holds that Trust Indenture Act Does Not Apply and Dismisses RMBS Investor Claims Against BNY Mellon

On December 23, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit dismissed claims against Bank of New York Mellon, as trustee, by four pension funds in a putative class action relating to 530 Countrywide RMBS trusts worth $424 billion. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court’s holding that the plaintiffs did not have standing to assert claims related to certificates issued by trusts in which no plaintiff ever invested. The court further held that the Trust Indenture Act (TIA) does not apply to the trusts because they are “certificate[s] of interest or participation in two or more securities having substantially different rights and privileges” and therefore within an exemption to the TIA. As a result, the court reversed the district court’s decision denying the bank’s motion to dismiss claims under the TIA.  Decision.