Justia U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Banking
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Plaintiff took out a home equity loan on a house in Texas (“Property”). Deutsche Bank National Trust Company (“Deutsche Bank”) is the trustee of the loan. Deutsche Bank sought a non-judicial foreclosure order on the Property.   Plaintiff sued Deutsche Bank in Texas state court, alleging violations of the Texas Debt Collection Act (“TDCA”), breach of the common-law duty of cooperation, fraud, and negligent misrepresentation. Despite the stipulation, Deutsche Bank removed the case to federal district court. Plaintiff then moved to remand the case back to Texas state court because, in his view, the amount in controversy could not exceed the stipulated maximum of $74,500. The district court denied Plaintiff’s motion to remand.   The Fifth Circuit reversed and concluded that the district court erred in denying Plaintiff’s motion to remand, and it lacked subject-matter jurisdiction when it entered final judgment. The court reasoned that Deutsche Bank failed to establish that the amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional floor of $75,000.   The court first noted that the bank points out that Plaintiff’s suit requested relief which might be read to suggest Plaintiff also sought injunctive relief. But the bank makes that argument only to establish that Plaintiff’s initial pleading seeks nonmonetary relief not to establish that the requested nonmonetary relief put the house in controversy. Whatever the merit of that latter contention might otherwise be, the court held that Deutsche Bank forfeited it. Moreover, the mere fact that Plaintiff pleaded a demand for specific damages cannot support bad faith. View "Durbois v. Deutsche Bank Ntl Trust" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff experienced financial difficulties and applied for a loan modification. In response, CitiMortgage mailed Plaintiff an offer to participate in a Trial Period Plan (“TPP”). The TPP provided that “the terms of your  TPP are effective on the day you make your first trial period payment, provided you have paid it on or before the last day of [January 2019].” Plaintiff effectively accepted the terms of the TPP when he made the first trial period payment of $1,293.66. CitiMortgage sent him a letter informing him that he was “ineligible” for the loan modification and then posted Plaintiff’s property for foreclosure.   Plaintiff filed suit against CitiMortgage in state court, asserting claims for breach of contract. The district court granted summary judgment to CitiMortgage concluding that Plaintiff failed to comply with the TPP’s payment deadlines.   The Fifth Circuit reversed finding that Plaintiff met his obligations under the TPP by making timely payments. CitiMortgage, by contrast, violated its obligations by refusing to grant the permanent loan modification and proceeding with foreclosure. The court explained that the TPP establishes a grace period. It accepts payment so long as it is made “in the month in which it is due.” Neither the TPP nor the parties use the term “grace period” to describe this language. But that is plainly what the text contemplates. And no one disputes that Plaintiff’s payments comply with the governing grace periods. CitiMortgage has offered no reason why favoring the monthly deadlines and ignoring the grace period would “do the least damage” to the text of the TPP. View "Burbridge v. CitiMortgage" on Justia Law

Posted in: Banking, Contracts
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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's putative class action against the Bank for failure to state a claim because extended overdraft charges were not "interest" under the National Bank Act of 1864. In this case, deference to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency's interpretation of these regulations is appropriate, and the agency's determination in Interpretive Letter 1082 that the type of bank fees at issue here—that the Bank refers to as extended overdraft charges—are noninterest charges is a sufficient basis to resolve this case. The court explained that, because extended overdraft charges are non-interest charges, they are not subject to the Act's usury limits. Finally, the court concluded that plaintiff already availed herself of the opportunity the district court provided to conduct discovery, and because plaintiff's complaint is deficient under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8, she is not entitled to discovery. View "Johnson v. BOKF National Ass'n" on Justia Law

Posted in: Banking
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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the FDIC receiver (FDIC-R) and the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) dismissal of Lexon's Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) claim against the FDIC in its corporate capacity. In this case, Lexon filed suit against the FDIC-R alleging violations of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 (FIRREA).The court concluded that the district court did not err in sua sponte granting summary judgment. Although the district court erred in failing to notify the parties, that error was harmless. The court held that letters of credit are repudiable contracts for the purposes of 12 U.S.C. 1821(e)(1); the FDIC-R repudiated the letters of credit within a "reasonable period" under section 1821(e)(2); and Lexon lacks "actual direct compensatory damages" under FIRREA. The court also concluded that Lexon failed to establish an analogous private liability and the district court correctly dismissed Lexon's FTCA claim for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. View "Lexon Insurance Co., Inc. v. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp." on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the judgment of the tax court and held that MoneyGram, a global payment services company, is not a "bank" under the tax code, 26 U.S.C. 581, because customers do not give MoneyGram money for safekeeping, which is the most basic feature of a bank. The court explained that purchasers of money orders are not placing funds with MoneyGram for safekeeping. Nor are the financial institutions that use MoneyGram to process official checks doing so for the purpose of safekeeping. In this case, examining the substance of MoneyGram's business confirms how the company has long described itself on its tax returns: as a nondepository institution. Therefore, without deposits, MoneyGram cannot be a bank. View "MoneyGram International, Inc. v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue" on Justia Law

Posted in: Banking, Tax Law
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After Wells Fargo foreclosed on plaintiffs' home, they filed suit to set aside the foreclosure sale, to cancel the trustee’s deed, to quiet title, and for trespass to try title (collectively, the foreclosure-sale claims). Plaintiffs also filed claims for alleged violations of the Texas Debt Collection Act (TDCA), Texas Financial Code sections 392.301(a)(8) and 392.304(a)(8), and of their due process rights. Alternatively, plaintiffs asserted claims for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and money had and received.The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on the foreclosure-sale claims where the undisputed evidence shows that Wells Fargo properly served notice; affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on the due process claim where it was not only untimely, but also inextricably tied to the non-meritorious foreclosure-sale claims; and dismissed the remaining claims. In this case, Wells Fargo was not prohibited by law from foreclosing and the district court did not err in dismissing this TDCA claim; Wells Fargo did not violate the Texas Finance Code; and the claims for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and money had and received are unpersuasive. View "Douglas v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

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This action is one of many related to the collapse of First NBC Bank of New Orleans. The FDIC filed an action in the district court seeking to enforce an administrative subpoena that ordered defendant to submit to a deposition. The district court granted the motion to enforce the subpoena and defendant appealed. In the interim, the district court denied defendant's request for a stay pending the outcome of this appeal. Defendant then sat for the deposition.The Fifth Circuit vacated the district court's judgment enforcing the FDIC's subpoena and remanded for further proceedings. The court held that the district court erred by holding that the FDIC, in its capacity as the Bank's receiver, was "the appropriate Federal functional regulator" in this case, entitling it to receive otherwise confidential and privileged documents from the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB). Rather, the FDIC was not "the appropriate Federal functional regulator" in this case, and the PCAOB lacked the authority under 15 U.S.C. 7215(b)(5)(B) to share transcripts of defendant's deposition testimony before it with the FDIC. View "Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. v. Belcher" on Justia Law

Posted in: Banking
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In a prior dispute between plaintiff and her lender, Feddie Mac, the Fifth Circuit certified to the Supreme Court of Texas the following question: "Is a lender entitled to equitable subrogation, where it failed to correct a curable constitutional defect in the loan documents under section 50 of the Texas Constitution?" The Texas Supreme Court answered in the affirmative. In light of the Texas Supreme Court's answer, the court reversed the district court's holding to the contrary and remanded for further proceedings. View "Zepeda v. Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff requested that the court set aside a foreclosure sale of his residence because his lender mailed him a preforeclosure notice with the wrong deadline for curing default. In this case, the letter contained a deadline thirty days from the day the notice was printed, even though the deed of trust called for a deadline thirty days from the day the letter was mailed.The Fifth Circuit held that the district court correctly applied Texas precedents and denied plaintiff relief, because the lender's "minor" non-compliance with the terms of the deed of trust did not justify unwinding the foreclosure sale. The court held that the error in the foreclosure notice did not clearly harm or prejudice plaintiff, where he does not dispute that, even if the notice had stated the correct deadline, he would not have had the funds to pay the past-due balance on his account. View "Casalicchio v. BOKF, N.A." on Justia Law

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Whitney Bank filed suit against SMI and its president and loan guarantor in order to collect under two loan agreements upon which SMI allegedly defaulted. SMI filed several counterclaims.The Fifth Circuit held that SMI's breach of contract claim against Whitney Bank failed for two reasons: first, under basic contract interpretation principles, the mere recital of the purpose of the loan, when read in conjunction with the rest of the document, did not require Whitney Bank to continue to provide funding to SMI until that purpose was fulfilled, regardless of SMI's default and failure to make payment as required under the loans; and second, the remainder of SMI's breach claims are based on unwritten purported oral agreements between Whitney Bank employees and SMI.Therefore, the court affirmed the magistrate judge's ruling in favor of Whitney Bank on its main demand for recovery under Loan 1; reversed the magistrate judge's ruling against Whitney Bank on its main demand for recovery on Loan 2; and remanded and rendered judgment in favor of Whitney Bank on the Loan 2 claim. The court reversed and remanded for the magistrate judge to render judgment in favor of Whitney Bank on SMI's counterclaims for breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, tortious interference with business relations, and breach of duty to deal in good faith. However, the court affirmed the magistrate judge's ruling that Whitney Bank was not entitled to recover from SMI for attorneys' fees and costs. View "Whitney Bank v. SMI Companies Global, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Banking, Contracts