Justia Arbitration & Mediation Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Banking
Lyons v. PNC Bank
In 2005, Lyons opened a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) with PNC’s predecessor, signing an agreement with no arbitration provision. In 2010, Lyons opened deposit accounts at PNC and signed a document that stated he was bound by the terms of PNC’s Account Agreement, including a provision authorizing PNC to set off funds from the account to pay any indebtedness owed by the account holder to PNC. PNC could amend the Account Agreement. In 2013, PNC added an arbitration clause to the Account Agreement. Customers had 45 days to opt out. Lyons opened another deposit account with PNC in 2014 and agreed to be bound by the 2014 Account Agreement, including the arbitration clause. Lyons again did not opt out. Lyons’s HELOC ended in February 2015. PNC began applying setoffs from Lyons’s 2010 and 2014 Accounts.Lyons sued under the Truth in Lending Act (TILA). PNC moved to compel arbitration. The court found that the Dodd-Frank Act amendments to TILA barred arbitration of Lyons’s claims related to the 2014 Account but did not apply retroactively to bar arbitration of his claims related to the 2010 account. The Fourth Circuit reversed in part. The Dodd-Frank Act 15 U.S.C. 1639c(e) precludes pre-dispute agreements requiring the arbitration of claims related to residential mortgage loans; the relevant arbitration agreement was not formed until after the amendment's effective date. PNC may not compel arbitration of Lyons’s claims as to either account. View "Lyons v. PNC Bank" on Justia Law
Goodwin v. Comerica Bank, N.A.
Plaintiff appeals two concurrent orders denying his petition to confirm an arbitration award and granting Comerica Bank's petition to vacate the award on the ground that the arbitrator made a material omission or misrepresentation in his disclosure of prior cases involving the parties' lawyers.The Court of Appeal concluded that, because the bank failed to seek the arbitrator's disqualification within 15 days of discovering the facts requiring disqualification and before the arbitrator decided the pending fee motion, it forfeited the right to demand disqualification. Accordingly, the court reversed the order vacating the award based on the arbitrator's disqualification. Because the bank identified no other grounds for denying the petition to confirm the award, the court granted that petition. View "Goodwin v. Comerica Bank, N.A." on Justia Law
Sevier County Schools Federal Credit Union v. Branch Banking & Trust Co.
In 1989, the Plaintiffs opened Money Market Investment Accounts (MMIAs) with FNB. FNB guaranteed that the MMIAs’ annual rate of interest would “never fall below 6.5%.” The original contract did not limit an account holder’s right to enforce the agreement in court but stated: Changes in the terms of this agreement may be made by the financial institution from time to time and shall become effective upon the earlier of (a) the expiration of a thirty-day period of posting of such changes in the financial institution, or (b) the making or delivery of notice thereof to the depositor by the notice in the depositor’s monthly statement for one month.In 1997, FNB merged with BankFirst. In 2001, BankFirst merged with BB&T, which sent a Bank Services Agreement (BSA) to each account holder, which included an arbitration provision. A 2004 BSA amendment added a class action waiver. A 2017 Amendment made massive changes to the BSA, including an extensive arbitration provision and stating that continued use of the account after receiving notice constituted acceptance of the changes. The Plaintiffs maintained their accounts. In 2018, the Plaintiffs were notified that the annual percentage rate applicable to their accounts would drop from 6.5% to 1.05%.The Sixth Circuit reversed the dismissal of the Plaintiffs' breach of contract suit. Because there was no mutual assent, the 2001 BSA and its subsequent amendments are invalid to the extent that they materially changed the terms of the original agreement. BB&T gave the Plaintiffs no choice other than to acquiesce or to close their high-yield savings accounts. BB&T did not act reasonably when it added the arbitration provision years after the Plaintiffs’ accounts were established, thus violating the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. View "Sevier County Schools Federal Credit Union v. Branch Banking & Trust Co." on Justia Law
Prima Donna Development Corp. v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.
Prima Donna’s president, opened commercial bank accounts at Wells Fargo; he signed or agreed to be bound by several agreements, including wire transfer agreements. The commercial account agreement contained an arbitration agreement. A Prima employee was the victim of fraud and authorized wire transfers to foreign banks. Before Prima reported the fraud, $638,400 had been transferred and could not be recovered. Prima sued, alleging that Wells Fargo did not employ reasonable commercial standards of fair dealing and failed to follow the agreement's security procedures. The court ordered arbitration, stating “The fact that UCC provisions displace common law provisions and provide the law under which claims are analyzed" is unrelated to what type of fact-finder can apply that law. The arbitrator concluded that Wells Fargo was not liable for the loss. The court of appeal concluded the trial court properly ordered the matter to arbitration and confirmed the award. The court rejected arguments that the arbitration agreement was substantively unconscionable because the arbitrator would not necessarily decide the dispute under California law, because it denied Prima its right to a jury trial, or because of the limited nature of judicial review. The arbitration process allowed for discovery, an arbitrator who voluntarily recused himself after Prima expressed concern about his impartiality, a multi-day hearing, written discovery, evidentiary rulings, and a reasoned, written award that applied relevant California law, View "Prima Donna Development Corp. v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A." on Justia Law
Bank of Oklahoma, NA v. Estes
The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of the Bank's motion for a preliminary injunction against arbitration by FINRA. The panel held that the Bank was likely to succeed on the question of whether the Bank or its Corporate Trust Department (CTD) was a municipal securities dealer and therefore subject to compelled arbitration before FINRA under MSRB Rule G-35. The panel held that neither the CTD or the Bank was a "municipal securities dealer" as defined in the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934. Accordingly, the panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Bank of Oklahoma, NA v. Estes" on Justia Law
Gingras v. Think Finance, Inc.
Plaintiffs filed suit alleging violations of Vermont and federal law when the terms of their loan agreements provided for interest rates well in excess of caps imposed by Vermont law. Plaintiffs sought an injunction against tribal officers in charge of Plain Green and an award of money damages against other defendants.The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendants' motion to dismiss and motion to compel arbitration. The court held that tribal sovereign immunity did not bar this suit because plaintiffs may sue tribal officers under a theory analogous to Ex parte Young for prospective, injunctive relief based on violations of state and substantive federal law occurring off of tribal lands. The court also held that the arbitration clauses of the loan agreements were unenforceable and unconscionable. View "Gingras v. Think Finance, Inc." on Justia Law
Alvarez-Mauras v. Banco Popular of Puerto Rico
In this case brought under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. 1962, 1964, the First Circuit affirmed the district court's ruling dismissing Plaintiff's claims against all defendants, holding that Plaintiff's claims against his securities broker may only be resolved through arbitration, the claims against the broker's wife and the couple's conjugal partnership were also subject to the arbitration agreement, and Plaintiff's claims against a bank were out of time.Plaintiff, a building contractor in Puerto Rico, argued that his securities broken, in collusion with the investment firm and affiliated bank, fraudulently stole more than $400,000 from his investment account. Plaintiff also named as defendants his broker's wife and their conjugal partnership . The district court dismissed all claims against all defendants. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) subject to the binding agreement between the parties, Plaintiff's claims against the broker may only be resolved through arbitration; (2) the claims against the broker's wife and the conjugal partnership were derivative of the claims against the broker and therefore also subject to the arbitration agreement; and (3) Plaintiff's claims against the bank were time-barred under 18 U.S.C. 1964. View "Alvarez-Mauras v. Banco Popular of Puerto Rico" on Justia Law
Dasher v. RBC Bank (USA)
The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of RBC's motion to compel arbitration. Plaintiff held a checking account with RBC and filed suit alleging that RBC failed to properly warn him of possible overdrafts at points of sale when he used his debit card and impermissibly rearranged the order of debit-card transactions so as to process larger transactions before smaller transactions. The court found it unnecessary to address the questions of waiver or the district court's alternative holding. Rather, the court held that PNC failed to demonstrate the requisite meeting of the minds to support a finding that the parties agreed through the February 2013 amendment to arbitrate their then-pending litigation. View "Dasher v. RBC Bank (USA)" on Justia Law
Johnson v. Keybank National Assoc.
The Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court's denial of KeyBank's motion to compel arbitration on grounds of unconscionability. The court looked to Ohio law to determine where plaintiff consented to arbitrate; plaintiff consented to the 1997 Agreement and its arbitration provision; plaintiff's argument that he did not assent to the revised version of the arbitration provision that appearred in the 2009 Agreement failed; and summary judgment was warranted in this case. The court also held that the district court erred in finding the 2009 Arbitration Provision unenforceable under applicable state law. The court remanded to the district court to compel arbitration. View "Johnson v. Keybank National Assoc." on Justia Law
Cain v. Midland Funding, LLC
Lender’s assignee (Assignee), while operating as an unlicensed debt collector, obtained a judgment against a credit card debtor (Debtor) in district court. Debtor’s contract with Lender included an arbitration provision. Debtor then filed a class action suit collaterally attacking the judgment based on violations of Maryland consumer protection laws. Assignee filed a motion to arbitrate the class action suit pursuant to an arbitration clause between Lender and Debtor. Assignee moved to compel arbitration. The circuit court granted the motion to compel, thus rejecting Debtor’s argument that Assignee waived its right to arbitrate when it brought its collection action against Debtor. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that because Assignee’s collection action was related to Debtor’s claims, Assignee waived its contractual right to arbitrate Debtor’s claims when it chose to litigate the collection action. View "Cain v. Midland Funding, LLC" on Justia Law