Justia Government Contracts Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Banking
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Ginnie Mae (GM), established by 12 U.S.C. 1717(a)(2)(A) to provide stability in the secondary residential mortgage market and promote access to mortgage credit, guarantees mortgage-backed securities (MBS). FMC, a private corporation, was an originator and servicer of government-guaranteed home mortgages and an issuer of MBS in GM’s program. GM learned of FMC actions that constituted the immediate default of the Guaranty Agreements. FMC undertook an investigation and provided the results to GM, while also complying with SEC requests. GM later terminated FMC from its program. The SEC initiated a civil enforcement action, which terminated in a consent agreement, without FMC admitting or denying the allegations but paying disgorgement and penalties. The Consent Agreement provided that it did not affect FMC’s right to take positions in proceedings in which the SEC is not a party but FMC agreed to not take any action or permit any public statement denying any allegation in the SEC complaint FMC later sued, alleging that GM had breached Guaranty Agreements when it terminated FMC from its program and denied violating those Agreements.The Federal Circuit affirmed the Claims Court’s dismissal. FMC’s breach of contract claims are precluded under the doctrine of res judicata. FMC’s action is essentially a collateral attack on the judgment entered in the SEC action. The SEC and GM are in privity for the purposes of precluding FMC’s claims and “successful prosecution of the second action would nullify the initial judgment or would impair rights established in the initial action.” View "First Mortgage Corp. v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Federal Reserve Act of 1913 established a system that includes the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and 12 regional Reserve Banks. The Board exercises broad regulatory supervision over the Reserve Banks, which serve as banks to the U.S. government and to commercial banks who are members of the Federal Reserve System. The Act set the statutory rate for dividend payments on Federal Reserve Bank stock at six percent per year, which remained in effect until 2016, when an amendment (12 U.S.C. 289(a)(1)) effectively reduced the dividend rate for certain stockholder banks to a lower variable rate. Plaintiffs argued that banks that subscribed to Reserve Bank stock before the amendment are entitled to dividends at the six percent rate and that, by paying dividends at the amended rate, the government breached a contractual duty or effected a Fifth Amendment taking. The Federal Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit. There is no “clear indication” of the government’s intent to contract in either the language of the Federal Reserve Act or the circumstances of its passage. Plaintiffs did not allege a legally cognizable property interest arising from its “statutory rights” and the requirement that member banks subscribe to reserve bank stock under the Act does not constitute a regulatory taking. View "American Bankers Association v. United States" on Justia Law

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Shareholders lacked standing to challenge, as an illegal exaction, U.S. government’s acquisition of AIG stock as loan collateral. In 2008, during one of the worst financial crises of the last century, American International Group (AIG) was on the brink of bankruptcy and sought emergency financing. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York granted AIG an $85 billion loan, the largest such loan to date. The U.S. Government received a majority stake in AIG’s equity under the loan, which the Government eventually converted into common stock and sold. One of AIG’s largest shareholders, Starr, filed suit alleging that the Government’s acquisition of AIG equity and subsequent actions relating to a reverse stock split were unlawful. The Claims Court held that the Government’s acquisition of AIG equity constituted an illegal exaction in violation of the Federal Reserve Act, 12 U.S.C. 343, but declined to grant relief for either that or for Starr’s reverse-stock-split claims. The Federal Circuit vacated in part, holding that Starr and the shareholders it represented lack standing to pursue the equity acquisition claims directly, as those claims belong exclusively to AIG, rendering the merits of those claims moot. The court affirmed as to Starr’s reverse-stock-split claims. View "Starr International Co. v. United States" on Justia Law

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In the 1950s and ’60s, to encourage private developers to construct, own, and manage housing projects for low- and moderate-income families, the government insured mortgages on those projects in exchange for provisions, such as a 40-year mortgage term, an agreement to maintain affordability restrictions for the duration of the mortgage, and prepayment limitations or prohibitions. The Emergency Low Income Housing Preservation Act of 1987 and the Low-Income Housing Preservation and Resident Homeownership Act of 1990 instituted a process to request the right to prepay mortgages. There were substantive restrictions on HUD granting prepayment requests, limiting its discretion, 12 U.S.C. 4108(a)). Prepayment is one step toward renting at market prices. The Acts permit HUD to grant incentives rather than permission to prepay. Owners claimed that the Acts constituted an as-applied taking. The Claims Court granted the government’s motions: for summary judgment that the takings claims for some properties were unripe for failure to exhaust administrative remedies; for summary judgment that no taking occurred for properties for which mortgages did not include a prepayment right; and for summary judgment of collateral estoppel as to one owner. The Federal Circuit affirmed as to ripeness and prepayment, but reversed as to collateral estoppel. View "Biafora v. United States" on Justia Law

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Roxco, Ltd. was hired as the general contractor for several public-construction projects for the State of Mississippi, including four building projects at the University of Mississippi, Jackson State University, and Alcorn State University. Pursuant to Section 31-5-15, in order to access the retainage on its state-construction projects, Roxco substituted securities valued at $1,055,000. These securities were deposited in a safekeeping account at Trustmark National Bank. Upon being notified of Roxco’s default, the State instructed Trustmark to transfer the funds from the treasury bills into the state treasury account. By letter, Roxco directed Trustmark not to transfer the funds from the treasury bills to the State’s account. Notwithstanding Roxco’s letter, Trustmark deposited the funds into the State’s account. Roxco filed suit against Trustmark for breach of contract and conversion. Trustmark argued that Section 31-5-15 permitted the release of the funds in the safekeeping account. A jury found in favor of Roxco and awarded $3,720,000 in damages. Aggrieved, Trustmark filed this appeal. Finding that the trial court should have granted Trustmark's motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, the Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Trustmark National Bank v. Roxco Ltd." on Justia Law