633 F.2d 886 (9th Cir. 1980), 79-3449, State ex rel. Edwards v. Heimann

Docket Nº:79-3449.
Citation:633 F.2d 886
Party Name:STATE of Washington ex rel. Michael D. EDWARDS, State Supervisor of Banking et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. John HEIMANN, Comptroller of the Currency et al., Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:December 08, 1980
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
 
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Page 886

633 F.2d 886 (9th Cir. 1980)

STATE of Washington ex rel. Michael D. EDWARDS, State

Supervisor of Banking et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

John HEIMANN, Comptroller of the Currency et al.,

Defendants-Appellees.

No. 79-3449.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

December 8, 1980

Argued and Submitted Oct. 15, 1980.

Page 887

William L. Williams, Asst. Atty. Gen., Olympia, Wash., for plaintiffs-appellants.

Charles S. Mullen, Graham & Dunn, Seattle, Wash., argued, for defendants-appellees; Charles Pinnell, Asst. U. S. Atty., Seattle, Wash., on brief.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington.

Before SKOPIL and ALARCON, Circuit Judges, and BURKE, [*] District Judge.

SKOPIL, Circuit Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Certain national chartered banks in Washington sought and obtained approval from the United States Comptroller of the Currency to exchange various branch banks. The Washington state Supervisor of Banking and an association representing state chartered banks brought suit on several theories to set aside the Comptroller's approval. Summary judgment was granted in favor of the national banks. The only issue on this appeal is whether the Comptroller had the statutory authority to approve the exchanges. We find that the relevant statutes are unambiguous and allow the result reached by the Comptroller.

We affirm.

FACTS

The facts are not disputed. Certain national chartered banks (national banks) in Washington filed purchase and assumptions applications with the United States Comptroller of the Currency (Comptroller). The national banks sought approval to make various branch bank exchanges. Public hearings were held and notice of the proposed transactions was given to various federal and state agencies. After receiving comments from other agencies, the Comptroller determined that the proposed exchanges served the convenience and need of the affected communities, were pro-competitive and in the public interest. The Comptroller also determined that he had the requisite statutory authority to approve the transactions.

A trade association of state chartered banks (Community banks) and the State Supervisor of Banking (Supervisor) filed suits to overturn the Comptroller's decision.

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The actions were consolidated. A request for an injunction was denied. A motion to certify a question of state statutory interpretation to the Washington Supreme Court was denied.

Through a series of pretrial proceedings, the issues were reduced to the single question of the authority of the Comptroller to approve the exchanges. Community banks and the Supervisor argued that the proposed branch exchanges were not authorized by 12 U.S.C. § 36(c) since the federal statute pertains only to "new" branches and not to the exchange of existing branches. Even assuming that the federal statute does permit the exchanges, Community banks and the Supervisor argued that the state statute cannot be interpreted to allow acquisition of a single branch. They claimed that the state statute does not contain the type of specific affirmative language required by the federal statute to authorize such a transaction.

National banks and the Comptroller interpreted the federal statute to encompass not only new branches but also any existing branch that might be acquired. National banks argued that the only reasonable interpretation of the word "new" in section 36(c) is "new to the acquiring bank" and not just de novo. They pointed to the clear, unambiguous language of the statute to counter Community banks suggested interpretation of the state statute.

Both sides moved for summary judgment. The district court granted the Comptroller's and national bank's motions for summary judgment and denied those of Community banks and the Supervisor. The district court found that the Comptroller exercised authority provided by the McFadden Act, 12 U.S.C. § 36(c), to approve the transactions and that he complied with the requirements of relevant state law as incorporated by section 36(c). Community banks and the Supervisor appealed.

ISSUE

The issue presented on appeal is whether the Comptroller had the authority to approve the exchanges. The analysis is two-fold:

1) Whether 12 U.S.C. § 36(c) allows a national...

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