Justia Arbitration & Mediation Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Banking
The branch of Citibank, N.A., established in the Republic of Argentina v.
Respondent is a former employee who won a judgment in Argentina's National Court of Labor Appeals against Citibank, N.A. Petitioner, the Argentinian branch of Citibank, N.A., filed a demand for arbitration with the American Arbitration Association and brought the proceedings below. The district court compelled arbitration, preliminarily enjoined the employee from enforcing the Argentinian judgment against Petitioner, and held Respondent in contempt of court. It also denied his motion to dismiss. The Second Circuit reversed and remanded. The court held that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the Petition. Therefore, the district court was without authority to issue its orders in this case. The court reversed the district court's orders -- including its order to compel arbitration, the preliminary injunction it entered against Respondent, its order finding Respondent in contempt, and its order requiring Respondent to pay the Branch's attorneys' fees and costs. The court concluded that because the Branch has not shown it enjoys independent legal existence and Citibank has not sought to substitute itself or join this action as the real party in interest, there has been no party adverse to Respondent. Without adverse parties, there can be no subject matter jurisdiction under Article III. View "The branch of Citibank, N.A., established in the Republic of Argentina v." on Justia Law
CREDIT ONE BANK, N.A. V. MICHAEL HESTRIN
In March 2021, Riverside County, California District Attorney sued Credit One Bank in Riverside County Superior Court. The lawsuit (the “state action”) alleged that Credit One, a national bank, violated California law by employing a vendor to make extensive harassing debt collection phone calls to California residents. In a related federal case (the “federal action”), Credit One requested that the United States District Court for the Central District of California enjoin the state action on the ground that it was an unlawful exercise of “visitorial powers,” which the National Bank Act (“NBA”) and its associated regulations grant exclusively to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”). The district court ultimately decided to abstain under Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971), in favor of the state action and dismissed the federal action. Credit One appealed that dismissal. The Ninth Circuit affirmed. The panel held that the district court correctly abstained because all four Younger factors were met. First, the state action qualified as an “ongoing” judicial proceeding because no proceedings of substance on the merits had taken place in the federal action. Second, the state court action implicated the important state interest of protecting consumers from predatory business practices. The panel held that the state court action was not an exercise of “visitorial powers,” and nothing in federal law prevents a district attorney from vindicating a state interest in consumer protection by suing a national bank. Third, Credit One had the ability to raise a federal defense under the National Bank Act. And fourth, the injunction Credit One sought would interfere with the state court proceeding. View "CREDIT ONE BANK, N.A. V. MICHAEL HESTRIN" on Justia Law
E-Commerce Lighting, Inc. v. E-Commerce Trade LLC
An arbitrator determined that a borrower and lender were liable to each other for similar amounts, each roughly two and a half million dollars. He then offset the awards against each other, resolving the disputed issue of whether a setoff was proper. A bank, however, had also lent money to the borrower. The bank was not a party to the arbitration, but believed the setoff effectively circumvented the agreement among it, the borrower, and the other lender that the bank’s loan had priority and would be paid back first. Instead of being offset against the other lender’s award, the bank believed, the borrower’s award should have gone toward satisfying the bank’s loan. It thus convinced the trial court to correct the arbitrator’s award by eliminating the setoff. The Court of Appeal held that on the facts presented, the correction affected the merits of the arbitrator’s decision. Accordingly, the correction was improper, and the Court reversed. View "E-Commerce Lighting, Inc. v. E-Commerce Trade LLC" on Justia Law
Zirpoli v. Midland Funding LLC
OneMain, a non-bank finance company, loaned Zirpoli $6,200.08, to be repaid at a rate of 26.91% (total $11,364.35). The loan was issued under the Consumer Discount Company Act (CDCA), a consumer protection statute, which creates an exception to Pennsylvania’s usury law. The loan is governed by a disclosure statement, a security agreement, and an arbitration agreement. Later, OneMain sold delinquent accounts to Midland, including Zirpoli’s loan. Midland sued Zirpoli but later dismissed the suit and undertook collection efforts.Zirpoli filed a class action, alleging that Midland’s collection activities constituted an unlawful attempt to collect the loan because Midland does not have a CDCA license and never obtained nor requested approval from the Department of Banking. Midland was, therefore, not lawfully permitted to purchase the loan. Midland moved to compel arbitration. The court denied the motion, focusing on the validity of the assignment from OneMain and Midland. The Third Circuit vacated. The ultimate illegality of a contract does not automatically negate the parties’ agreement that an arbitrator should resolve disputes arising from the contract. The parties to the loan clearly agreed to arbitrate the issue of arbitrability. The arbitration agreement provides that an arbitrator shall resolve the arbitrability of defenses to enforcement, including alleged violations of state usury laws. View "Zirpoli v. Midland Funding LLC" on Justia Law
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