Federal District Court Issues First Ever Post-Trial Order Requiring Bank to Reimburse Monoline Insurer over Loans Backing MBS
On February 6, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York found that loans underlying two trusts issued by a Michigan bank breached the representations and warranties in the contracts the bank entered with its bond insurer, and ordered the bank to pay over $90 million, plus interest and attorneys’ fees, to reimburse the insurer for payments made to the bond holders for losses incurred when the loans underlying the trusts defaulted. Assured Guaranty Municipal Corp. v. Flagstar Bank, 11-cv-02375, 2013 WL 440114 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 6, 2013). The order is the first to impose lender liability for monoline insurer losses based on alleged underwriting defects. The order followed a 12-day bench trial in October 2012 that featured expert testimony presented by the insurer that relied on a statistical sample of the loans in the two pools at issue, and a separate review of certain loan files by the court. The court held that, “despite the unique characteristics of the individual members populating the underlying pool, the sample is nonetheless reflective of the proportion of the individual members in the entire pool exhibiting any given characteristic.” The court then adopted the insurer’s expert’s conclusion that 606 of the 800 loans reviewed were materially defective, while the court determined that the bank was unable to show actual instances where the loan files did not contain material breaches of the underwriting guidelines. Based on the sample loan evidence, the court held that the bank failed to meet its own underwriting requirements in originating the home equity loans that it subsequently pooled and securitized, which eventually defaulted, yielding losses for the insurer. Further, the court held that the bank was made “constructively aware” of the breaches through the insurer’s repurchase demand, yet the bank failed to cure or repurchase.