Justia U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Banking

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After plaintiff began missing loan payments on a house she bought in Long Beach, ReconTrust initiated a non-judicial foreclosure. In this case, the lender was Countrywide, the borrower was plaintiff and the trustee was ReconTrust. Plaintiff subsequently filed suit alleging that ReconTrust violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. 1692e(2)(A), by sending her notices that misrepresented the amount of debt she owed. Plaintiff also sought to rescind her mortgage transaction under the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), 15 U.S.C. 1635(a), on the ground that defendants had perpetrated fraud against her. The district court twice dismissed plaintiff's rescission claim without prejudice and then granted ReconTrust's motion to dismiss the FDCPA claims. The court held that actions taken to facilitate a non-judicial foreclosure, such as sending the notice of default and notice of sale, are not attempts to collect “debt” as that term is defined by the FDCPA; the court's holding affirms Hulse v. Ocwen Federal Bank; the court acknowledged that the Fourth and Sixth Circuit declined to follow Hulse; and the notices at issue in this case didn’t request payment from plaintiff, they merely informed plaintiff that the foreclosure process had begun and explained the foreclosure timeline. Therefore, the court affirmed the dismissal of the FDCPA claim. The court also concluded where, as here, the district court dismisses a claim and instructs the plaintiff not to refile the claim unless he includes certain additional allegations that the plaintiff is unable or unwilling to make, the dismissed claim is preserved for appeal even if not repleaded. Therefore, the court remanded to the district court to consider plaintiff's TILA rescission claim in light of Merritt v. Countrywide Fin. Corp. View "Vien-Phoung Thi Ho v. ReconTrust Co." on Justia Law
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This case arises out of an action to quiet title to real property purchased at a homeowners’ association foreclosure auction in North Las Vegas, Nevada. Nevada Revised Statutes section 116.3116 et seq. strips a mortgage lender of its first deed of trust when a homeowners’ association forecloses on the property based on delinquent HOA dues. The court held that the Statute’s “opt-in” notice scheme, which required a homeowners’ association to alert a mortgage lender that it intended to foreclose only if the lender had affirmatively requested notice, facially violated the lender’s constitutional due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Federal Constitution. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded for further proceedings. View "Bourne Valley Court Trust v. Wells Fargo" on Justia Law

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This case concerns a dispute between the parties over who has priority ownership of property located in Las Vegas. Nevada has a statute that gives a homeowners’ association lien priority over “all other liens and encumbrances” (subject to some limited exceptions) for up to nine months of unpaid HOA fees. NEV. REV. STAT. 116.3116(2)–(3). After the HOA foreclosed on property that Ashley Spencer bought, Weeping Hollow purchased the property at the foreclosure sale. Just over two months after the HOA foreclosure sale, Wells Fargo attempted to foreclose on the property under its 2008 deed of trust. Weeping Hollow filed suit in state court against Spencer, Wells Fargo, and a title insurance company. Wells Fargo removed to federal court. The district court then granted Wells Fargo’s motion to dismiss Weeping Hollow’s complaint. After the district court issued its ruling, the Nevada Supreme Court issued an opinion that expressly abrogates the district court’s interpretation of the HOA statute. Under the Nevada Supreme Court’s holding, a foreclosure on an HOA lien extinguishes an earlier-recorded security interest even though the HOA lien was recorded later. The court held that the district court erred in applying the fraudulent-joinder doctrine to this case. Because Spencer was not shown to be fraudulently joined, her presence in the action divests the district court of diversity jurisdiction and the district court must remand the case to state court. Since this case should never have made it into federal court, the court has no reason to address Wells Fargo’s constitutional and state-law arguments. View "Weeping Hollow Ave. Trust v. Spencer" on Justia Law

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Relators filed suit under the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. 3729(b)(2)(A), against various lenders and loan servicers, alleging that defendants certified that loans purchased by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were free and clear of certain home owner association liens and charges when they were not. At issue was whether Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are officers, employees, or agents of the federal government for purposes of the Act. The court concluded that the district court properly held that a claim presented to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac is not presented to an “officer, employee or agent” of the United States. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are private companies, albeit companies sponsored or chartered by the federal government. The court's prior decision in Rust v. Johnson, where it held that Fannie Mae was a federal instrumentality for state/city tax purposes, does not change the result, because Rust does not address Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac’s status under the False Claims Act. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States ex rel. Adams v. Aurora Loan Servs." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a putative class action against Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank, alleging federal and state law claims arising out of the modification of the deed of trust for plaintiffs' home. At issue is the retroactivity of 15 U.S.C.1641(g), a 2009 amendment to the 1968 Truth in Lending Act (TILA). Section 1641(g) requires a creditor who obtains a mortgage loan by sale or transfer to notify the borrower of the transfer in writing. The court held that section 1641(g) does not apply retroactively because Congress did not express a clear intent to do so. The court noted that its holding is consistent with numerous district court decisions. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Talaie v. Wells Fargo Bank" on Justia Law
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Plaintiff, a homeowner, appealed the dismissal of his action against Freddie Mac, for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty where Freddie Mac purchased plaintiff's mortgage from Taylor Bean, the loan originator, on a secondary market. Taylor Bean failed to pay the insurance premium from an escrow account and caused plaintiff's insurance to be cancelled. The court concluded that plaintiff failed to allege facts that, if true, would establish that Freddie Mac had a contractual duty to service the loan where the Deed of Trust expressly disavows any assumption of servicing obligations by a subsequent purchaser of the loan, and Freddie Mac never expressly assumed any such obligations. The court concluded that Washington law did not prohibit this arrangement and that this arrangement is typical for such home loans. Finally, the court concluded that plaintiff's breach of fiduciary duty argument failed because Section 20 of the Deed of Trust where the duty to hold the money for the insurance premiums in escrow remained with the loan servicer, Taylor Bean. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Johnson v. FHLMC" on Justia Law

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In 2011, Eminence Investors, LLLP (Plaintiff) brought suit against against The Bank of New York Mellon (Defendant). Nearly two years later, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint adding class allegations on behalf of more than 100 class members and requesting compensatory damages expected to exceed $10 million. Within thirty days of the filing of the complaint, Defendant removed the action to federal court pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA). Plaintiff moved to remand the case to state court. The district court remanded the case to state court, concluding that removal was untimely. Defendant appealed. A panel of the Ninth Circuit dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction the appeal, holding that the securities exception from CAFA removal applied to this case. View "Eminence Investors, LLLP v. Bank of New York Mellon" on Justia Law

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In 2007, MTB Enterprises, Inc. obtained a $17 million construction loan from financial institution ANB Financial. ANB thereafter failed, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation transferred the construction loan to ADC Venture 2011-2, LLC. In 2012, MTB filed suit in the United States District Court for the District of Idaho against ADC Venture alleging that ADC Venture assumed the obligations of ANB Financial and was therefore liable for breach of contract and damages from MTB’s failed construction venture. The district court dismissed MTB’s claims. The Ninth Circuit dismissed MTB’s appeal for lack of jurisdiction, holding (1) the rule set forth in the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 that a claimant must sue in the district court where the failed bank’s principal place of business was located or the United States District Court for the District of Columbia is a jurisdictional limitation on federal court review; and (2) because the United States District Court for the District of Idaho lacked subject-matter jurisdiction over the case from the start, the case must be dismissed. View "MTB Enters., Inc. v. ADC Venture 2011-2, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”) was appointed to act as receiver for the assets of First Heritage Bank, N.A. (“Heritage”). Heritage had previously purchased, pursuant to an agreement (“Agreement”), interest in a commercial loan that Professional Business Bank (“PBB”) had made to Al’s Garden Art, Inc. The FDIC subsequently sold Heritage’s interest under the Agreement to Commerce First Financial, Inc. (“CFF”). When Al’s Garden Art defaulted on its loan obligations, PBB sued to collect on the loan. CFF then brought a breach of contract action against PBB. PBB filed a third party complaint against the FDIC, alleging that the FDIC’s failure to satisfy the Agreement’s pre-receivership contractual provisions constituted breach of contract. The FDIC moved to dismiss on the grounds that the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act (“FIRREA”) preempted PBB’s claims. The district court denied the motion and granted summary judgment for PBB. The Ninth Circuit affirmed, holding that the FDIC, in its role of receiver of a closed bank, may not breach underlying asset contractual obligations without consequence. View "Bank of Manhattan, N.A. v. Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp." on Justia Law
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Defendant pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to engage in prohibited monetary transactions in property for his part in the purchase of two parcels of real property with fraudulently obtained loans. The district court ordered Defendant to pay $615,935 in restitution to JP Morgan Chase, a loan purchaser, and $329,767 in restitution to CitiGroup, a loan originator. Defendant appealed the restitution order. The Ninth Circuit (1) affirmed the district court’s determination that the requirements of the Mandatory Victim Restitution Act were met in this case; (2) affirmed the calculation of restitution owed to CitiGroup; and (3) vacated and remanded for the district court to recalculate the amount owed to Chase because the court applied a formula for a loan originator, although Chase had purchased the loans. View "United States v. Luis" on Justia Law