Justia U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Securities Law
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The Enterprises, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, suffered financial losses in 2008 when the housing market collapsed. The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA), created the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), an independent agency tasked with regulating the Enterprises, including stepping in as conservator, 12 U.S.C. 4511.With the consent of the Enterprises’ boards of directors, FHFA placed the Enterprises into conservatorship, then negotiated preferred stock purchase agreements (PSPAs) with the Treasury Department to allow the Enterprises to draw up to $100 billion in exchange for senior preferred non-voting stock having quarterly fixed-rate dividends. A “net worth sweep” under the PSPAs replaced the fixed-rate dividend formula with a variable one that required the Enterprises to make quarterly payments equal to their entire net worth, minus a small capital reserve amount, causing the Enterprises to transfer most of their equity to Treasury, leaving no residual value for shareholders.Shareholders challenged the net worth sweep. Barrett, an individual shareholder, separately asserted derivative claims on behalf of the Enterprises. The Claims Court dismissed the shareholders’ direct Fifth Amendment takings and illegal exaction claims for lack of standing; dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction the shareholders’ direct claims for breach of fiduciary duty, and breach of implied-in-fact contract; and found that Barrett had standing to bring his derivative claims, notwithstanding HERA. The Federal Circuit affirmed the dismissal of shareholders’ direct claims but concluded that the shareholders’ derivatively pled allegations should also be dismissed. View "Fairholme Funds, Inc. v, United States" on Justia Law

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The Enterprises, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, suffered financial losses in 2008 when the housing market collapsed. The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA), created the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), tasked with regulating the Enterprises, including stepping in as conservator, 12 U.S.C. 4511. FHFA placed the Enterprises into conservatorship, then negotiated preferred stock purchase agreements (PSPAs) with the Treasury Department to allow the Enterprises to draw up to $100 billion in exchange for senior preferred non-voting stock having quarterly fixed-rate dividends. A “net worth sweep” under the PSPAs replaced the fixed-rate dividend formula with a variable one that required the Enterprises to make quarterly payments equal to their entire net worth, minus a small capital reserve amount, causing the Enterprises to transfer most of their equity to Treasury, leaving no residual value for shareholders.In a companion case, the Federal Circuit affirmed the dismissal of shareholders’ direct claims challenging the net worth sweep and concluded that the shareholders’ derivatively pled allegations should also be dismissed.The Washington Federal Plaintiffs alleged direct takings and illegal exaction claims, predicated on the imposition of the conservatorships, rather than on FHFA's subsequent actions. The Federal Circuit affirmed the dismissal of those claims. Where Congress mandates the review process for an allegedly unlawful agency action, plaintiffs may not assert a takings claim asserting the agency acted in violation of a statute or regulation. These Plaintiffs also lack standing to assert their substantively derivative claims as direct claims. View "Washington Federal v. United States" on Justia Law

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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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From 1997-2001, Nacchio served as Qwest's CEO. Based on 2001 stock trades, Nacchio reported a net gain of $44,632,464.38 on his return and paid $17,974,832 in taxes. In 2007, Nacchio was convicted of 19 counts of insider trading, 15 U.S.C. 78j, 78ff. Following a remand, the court resentenced Nacchio to serve 70 months in prison, pay a 19 million dollar fine, and forfeit the net proceeds, $44,632,464.38. Nacchio settled a concurrent SEC action, agreeing to disgorge $44,632,464. Nacchio’s criminal forfeiture satisfied his disgorgement obligation. The Justice Department notified participants in private securities class action litigation or SEC civil litigation concerning Qwest stock that they were eligible to receive a remission from Nacchio’s forfeiture. Nacchio sought an income tax credit of $17,974,832 for taxes paid on his trading profits. The IRS argued that his forfeiture was a nondeductible penalty or fine and that he was estopped from seeking tax relief because of his conviction. The Claims Court held that Nacchio could deduct his forfeiture payment under Internal Revenue Code 165, but not under I.R.C. 162 and was not collaterally estopped from pursuing special relief under I.R.C. 1341. The Federal Circuit reversed as to section 165;Nacchio failed to establish that his forfeiture was not a “fine or similar penalty.” Because establishing deductibility under another section of the code is a prerequisite to pursuing relief under section 1341, Nacchio cannot pursue a deduction under that section. View "Nacchio v. United States" on Justia Law

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The patent, titled "Automated Exchange for Trading Derivative Securities," discloses an invention directed to an automated exchange for trading options contracts that allocates trades among market professionals and that assures liquidity. The patent distinguishes an automated exchange from the traditional, floor-based "open-outcry" system, under which trading takes place through oral communications between market professionals at a central location in open view of other market professionals. The patent purports that it can "provide an automated system for matching previously entered orders and quotations with incoming orders and quotations on an exchange for securities, which will improve liquidity and assure the fair handling of orders." The district court held that the patent is not infringed by the trading system of Chicago Board Options Exchange. The Federal Circuit reversed in part. The district court erred in construing "system memory means," "matching," and "automated exchange." View "Chicago Bd. Options Exch., Inc. v. Int' Sec. Exch., L.L.C." on Justia Law