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Judge wants Congress to reconsider FDIC’s rights when taking over a bank

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In a case that hinges on the distinction between direct and derivative claims, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals decided that a failed bank can pursue two claims against former managers.

Irwin Financial Corp. subsidiaries Irwin Union Bank & Trust and Irwin Union Bank, FSB were closed in 2009 and taken over by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The banks’ asset portfolios were dominated by mortgage loans, whose values plummeted in 2007 and 2008.

Elliott Levin, as Irwin Financial’s trustee in bankruptcy, sued three of the company’s directors and officers in an attempt to recover money. The FDIC intervened because whatever Levin collects, the FDIC will not be able to collect from the managers. The FDIC argues that most of Irwin Financial’s claims now belong to it under 12 U.S.C. Section 1821(d)(2)(A)(i).

Counts 1, 2, 4 and 5 of Irwin Financial’s complaint allege the managers violated their fiduciary duties to Irwin Financial by not implementing additional controls that would have protected the company from the managers’ errors in their roles as directors of the bank. The managers allowed the banks to specialize in the types of mortgages hard-hit in 2007 and 2008.

Count 3 alleges the managers allowed Irwin to pay dividends in amounts that left it short of capital when the housing bubble burst; and count 7 claims two of the managers breached their duties of care and loyalty when they “capitulated” to the FDIC and caused Irwin to contribute millions of dollars to new capital in the banks.

Judge Sarah Evans Barker in Indianapolis dismissed all of the claims after concluding all of the claims belong to the FDIC. The FDIC on appeal conceded that counts 3 and 7 belong to the bank, a result the 7th Circuit also found.

Indiana treats a stockholder’s claim as derivative if the corporation itself is the loser and the investor is worse off because the value of the firm’s stock declines, which is a good description of the theory behind counts 1, 2, 4 and 5, the 7th Circuit held.

The FDIC, not Irwin, owns any claim against the manager that depends on the choices made as director or employees of the banks, the judges held. And count 3 was prematurely dismissed, because the court did not dismiss it on the merits. The parties need to explore how Indiana’s version of the Business Judgment Rule applies to the managers’ activities with respect to information and distributions, wrote Judge Frank Easterbrook.

Count 7 also alleges a claim that the FDIC could not pursue as the banks’ successor. The judges remanded for further proceedings on counts 3 and 7.

Judge David Hamilton joined the majority opinion and believes this case “raises some broader policy questions that deserve consideration by the FDIC and Congress, including why the direct/derivative distinction should still matter, either under the current version of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989, see 12 U.S.C. §1821(d)(2)(A), or perhaps other statutory amendments that Congress may want to consider.”

“Any student of the Great Depression who remembers the ‘runs’ on banks can appreciate those roles. But this case at its core presents a troubling effort. The holding company structure and the direct/derivative dichotomy are being used in ways that could allow those who ran the banks into the ground to take for themselves some of the modest sums available to reimburse the FDIC for a portion of the socialized losses they inflicted. If that result is not contrary to federal law, it should be.”

The case is Elliott D. Levin, as trustee in bankruptcy for Irwin Financial Corp. v. William I. Miller, et al., 12-3474.
 

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  1. The voices of the prophets are more on blogs than subway walls these days, Dawn. Here is the voice of one calling out in the wilderness ... against a corrupted judiciary ... that remains corrupt a decade and a half later ... due to, so sadly, the acquiescence of good judges unwilling to shake the forest ... for fear that is not faith .. http://www.ogdenonpolitics.com/2013/09/prof-alan-dershowitz-on-indiana.html

  2. So I purchased a vehicle cash from the lot on West Washington in Feb 2017. Since then I found it the vehicle had been declared a total loss and had sat in a salvage yard due to fire. My title does not show any of that. I also have had to put thousands of dollars into repairs because it was not a solid vehicle like they stated. I need to find out how to contact the lawyers on this lawsuit.

  3. It really doesn't matter what the law IS, if law enforcement refuses to take reports (or take them seriously), if courts refuse to allow unrepresented parties to speak (especially in Small Claims, which is supposedly "informal"). It doesn't matter what the law IS, if constituents are unable to make effective contact or receive any meaningful response from their representatives. Two of our pets were unnecessarily killed; court records reflect that I "abandoned" them. Not so; when I was denied one of them (and my possessions, which by court order I was supposed to be able to remove), I went directly to the court. And earlier, when I tried to have the DV PO extended (it expired while the subject was on probation for violating it), the court denied any extension. The result? Same problems, less than eight hours after expiration. Ironic that the county sheriff was charged (and later pleaded to) with intimidation, but none of his officers seemed interested or capable of taking such a report from a private citizen. When I learned from one officer what I needed to do, I forwarded audio and transcript of one occurrence and my call to law enforcement (before the statute of limitations expired) to the prosecutor's office. I didn't even receive an acknowledgement. Earlier, I'd gone in to the prosecutor's office and been told that the officer's (written) report didn't match what I said occurred. Since I had the audio, I can only say that I have very little faith in Indiana government or law enforcement.

  4. One can only wonder whether Mr. Kimmel was paid for his work by Mr. Burgh ... or whether that bill fell to the citizens of Indiana, many of whom cannot afford attorneys for important matters. It really doesn't take a judge(s) to know that "pavement" can be considered a deadly weapon. It only takes a brain and some education or thought. I'm glad to see the conviction was upheld although sorry to see that the asphalt could even be considered "an issue".

  5. In response to bryanjbrown: thank you for your comment. I am familiar with Paul Ogden (and applaud his assistance to Shirley Justice) and have read of Gary Welsh's (strange) death (and have visited his blog on many occasions). I am not familiar with you (yet). I lived in Kosciusko county, where the sheriff was just removed after pleading in what seems a very "sweetheart" deal. Unfortunately, something NEEDS to change since the attorneys won't (en masse) stand up for ethics (rather making a show to please the "rules" and apparently the judges). I read that many attorneys are underemployed. Seems wisdom would be to cull the herd and get rid of the rotting apples in practice and on the bench, for everyone's sake as well as justice. I'd like to file an attorney complaint, but I have little faith in anything (other than the most flagrant and obvious) resulting in action. My own belief is that if this was medicine, there'd be maimed and injured all over and the carnage caused by "the profession" would be difficult to hide. One can dream ... meanwhile, back to figuring out to file a pro se "motion to dismiss" as well as another court required paper that Indiana is so fond of providing NO resources for (unlike many other states, who don't automatically assume that citizens involved in the court process are scumbags) so that maybe I can get the family law attorney - whose work left me with no settlement, no possessions and resulted in the death of two pets (etc ad nauseum) - to stop abusing the proceedings supplemental and small claims rules and using it as a vehicle for harassment and apparently, amusement.

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