Justia U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Banking
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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting JPMorgan Chase Bank's (Chase) motion to dismiss Mark and Beth Thompson's action for breach of contract and for violating the statutory power of sale Massachusetts affords mortgagees, holding that the foreclosure sale was not void.The Thompsons alleged that Chase failed to comply with the notice requirements in their mortgage before foreclosing on their property. The mortgage terms for which Massachusetts courts demand strict compliance include the provisions in paragraph 22 of the mortgage requiring and prescribing the pre-foreclosure default notice. The Thompsons argued that because paragraph 19 of the mortgage included conditions and time limitations on the Thompsons' post-acceleration reinstatement right, Chase failed to strictly comply with paragraph 22's notice requirement by failing to inform the Thompsons of those conditions and limitations. The district court dismissed the case for failure to state a claim. The First Circuit held that the paragraph 22 notice the Thompsons received was potentially deceptive and, therefore, the foreclosure sale was void. The Court then withdrew its decision and certified a question to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC). Because the SJC held that the paragraph 22 notice could not have been misleading for omitting paragraph 19's deadline, the First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Thompson v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the order of the district court remanding this removed case to Puerto Rico's Court of First Instance, holding that the district court erred when it remanded to the local Puerto Rico court a suit asserting claims by Constructora Japimel, Inc. against Doral Bank under the circumstances of this case.Contrary to the text of 12 U.S.C. 1819(b)(2)(B), the district court remanded this case to the local Puerto Rico court Japimel's lawsuit against Doral, a failed bank, after the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) had become Doral's receiver, had filed a notice of substitution in state court to become a party to the suit, and had timely removed the suit to federal court. The FDIC timely appealed the remand order. The First Circuit reversed, holding that the district court erred by ignoring section 1819(b)(2)(B)'s clear language and remanding the case to the Court of First Instance. View "Federal Deposit Insurance Co. v. Constructora Japimel, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Banking
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The First Circuit reversed the judgment of the district court granting Wilmington Savings Fund Society, FSB a declaratory judgment declaring invalid a home equity line of credit (HELOC) that had previously been granted to Nina Collart's father, Lucien, on property in Massachusetts and granting Wilmington an equitable lien in the property, holding that the court abused its discretion in granting Wilmington an equitable lien.Wilmington sued Nina in her individual capacity as trustee of the Lucien R. Collart, Jr. Nominee Trust and the Anne B. Collart Nominee Trust and also named as a defendant Thomas Mann, Jr., named in his capacity of the Nina B. Collart Trust. Wilmington sought a declaratory judgment that the HELOC was a valid encumbrance on the property and further sought an equitable lien on the property. The district court held that the HELOC was invalid and that Wilmington was entitled to an equitable lien against the property. The First Circuit reversed, holding that the lien was based on an error of law and that the defendants should have had judgment entered in their favor. View "Wilmington Savings Fund Society v. Collart" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit summarily affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiffs’ claims that HSBC Bank USA, N.A. could not foreclose on their property under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 244, 14 and that the mortgage encumbering their property was obsolete by operation of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 260, 33, holding that the district court did not err in dismissing the claims.Plaintiffs borrowed money from a lender to purchase property. Plaintiffs executed a promissory note and mortgage identifying Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS) as the mortgagee. MERS later assigned the mortgage to HSBC. After Plaintiffs defaulted on their loan HSBC provided notice of a foreclosure sale. Plaintiffs sued HSBC and Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., the mortgage servicer, to enjoin the sale. The district court denied Plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction and granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff's claim that HSBC cannot foreclose on the property on grounds that MERS's assignment of the mortgage to HSBC was invalid was foreclosed by precedent; and (2) the district court also properly dismissed Plaintiffs' obsolete mortgage claim, which had no basis in the plain text of Massachusetts's obsolete mortgage statute or in precedent. View "Hayden v. HSBC Bank USA, N.A." on Justia Law

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In this lawsuit arising out of a foreclosure sale the First Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of Edythe Dyer's claims arguing that U.S. Bank was not a proper party to utilize the statutory power of sale, holding that U.S. Bank was authorized to exercise the statutory power of sale and that Dyer's Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A claim against Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. was properly dismissed.Edythe Dyer executed a promissory note to Dreamhouse Mortgage Corporation and granted a mortgage on her property to Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (MERS). MERS assigned the mortgage to U.S. Bank. Wells Fargo was U.S. Bank’s servicer of the loan. U.S. Bank later notified Dyer that it intended to foreclose on the property by utilizing the statutory power of sale provided for in Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 183, 21. Dyer filed suit naming U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo as defendants. The magistrate judge granted Defendants’ motion for judgment of the pleadings and dismissed all of Dyer’s claims. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) none of Dyer's arguments as to why U.S. Bank was not authorized to exercise the statutory power of sale had merit; and (2) the magistrate judge correctly dismissed Dyer’s Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 93A claim against Wells Fargo. View "Dyer v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

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In this foreclosure case, a panel of the First Circuit withdrew its earlier opinion in this case, vacated the judgment below, and certified a question to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC), reasoning that if serious harm was threatened as a result of this litigation that might prompt the SJC to reexamine its precedents, the SJC can address it.In the First Circuit's previous decision, the panel concluded that JP Mortgage Chase, holder of a mortgage on Plaintiffs' home, could not properly foreclose the mortgage based on Plaintiffs' failure to pay their required months installments because the foreclosure notice was inaccurate. Citing wide support from the banking community, Chase filed a petition for rehearing, claiming that a state banking regulation required Chase to use the precise language it had used in its pre-foreclosure notice to Plaintiffs. The First Circuit ordered certification of a question to the SJC regarding the pre-foreclosure notice in this case and whether the notice was inaccurate or deceptive in a manner that rendered the subsequent foreclosure sale void under Massachusetts law. View "Thompson v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting judgment to U.S. Bank Trust, N.A. in the amount of $226,458.28 on U.S. Bank's complaint against Julia Jones alleging breach of contract and breach of promissory note, holding that the district court did not err by admitting into evidence a computer printout, marked as Exhibit 8, that contained an account summary and a list of transactions related to the loan.On appeal, Jones argued that admitting Exhibit 8 violated the Federal Rules of Evidence. At issue was whether the records were "reliable enough to be admissible." The First Circuit answered in the affirmative, holding (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding Exhibit 8 reliable enough to admit under Fed. R. Evid. 803(6); (2) the district court's admission of Exhibit 8 did not violate Fed. R. Evid. 901, 1001, or 1002; and (3) the district court did not err by awarding U.S. Bank approximately $23,000 in charges for escrow, title fees, and inspections that were not recoverable under the terms of the promissory note. View "U.S. Bank Trust, N.A. v. Jones" on Justia Law

Posted in: Banking, Contracts
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The First Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court dismissing Plaintiffs' complaint against Fidelity Brokerage Services, LLC for failure to state a claim, holding that First Circuit law barred Plaintiffs' claims.The district judge concluded that Fidelity was immune from suit based on an immunity provision in the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), 31 U.S.C. 5318(g)(3)(A). On appeal, Plaintiffs argued that Eleventh Circuit precedent, which holds that BSA immunity requires good faith dealing, applied because the case came to the First Circuit via a transfer order from a court in the Eleventh Circuit and that, even if First Circuit caselaw applied, Fidelity could not get BSA immunity. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) First Circuit law, rather than Eleventh Circuit law, governed this case; and (2) the First Circuit's opinion in Stoutt v. Banco Popular de Puerto Rico, 320 F.3d 26 (1st Cir. 2003), applied and gave Fidelity BSA immunity. View "AER Advisors Inc. v. Fidelity Brokerage Services, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Banking
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The First Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court dismissing the complaint brought by the plan administrator of R&G Financial Corporation (Administrator) alleging that negligence and breach of fiduciary duties owed to R&G Financial (the Holding Company) caused the failure of R-G Premier Bank of Puerto Rico (the Bank) and the Holding Company's resultant loss of its investment in the Bank, holding that the complaint must be dismissed because the claims the Administrator asserted for the Holding Company were the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation's (FDIC) under 12 U.S.C. 1821(d)(2)(A).R&G Financial entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy after the Bank, its primary subsidiary, failed. Previously, Puerto Rican regulators had closed the Bank and named the FDIC as the Bank's receiver. After the Bank failed, the Administrator filed this suit against six of the Holding Company's former directors and officers and their insurer. The FDIC intervened. The district court dismissed the complaint. The First Circuit affirmed on different grounds, holding that, under section 1821(d)(2)(A), the FDIC succeeded to the Administrator's claims. View "Zucker v. Rodriguez" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court dismissing this putative class action against a bank after concluding that the bank's "Sustained Overdraft Fees" for overdrawn checking accounts were not "interest" under the National Bank Act, 12 U.S.C. 1 et seq., holding that the bank's overdraft fees were not interest under the Act.Plaintiff filed this complaint alleging that Citizens Bank's Sustained Overdraft Fees violated the Act because they constituted interest at a rate above that allowed by Rhode Island, the state in which the bank was located. The district court dismissed the action for failure to state a claim. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that flat excess overdraft fees like the fee at issue in this case are not interest under the Act. View "Fawcett v. Citizens Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

Posted in: Banking