In re RFC & Rescap Liquidating Trust Action, Case No. 13-cv-3351 (SRN/HB)

CourtUnited States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court of Minnesota
Writing for the CourtSUSAN RICHARD NELSON, United States District Judge
Citation332 F.Supp.3d 1101
Docket NumberCase No. 13-cv-3351 (SRN/HB)
Decision Date15 August 2018

332 F.Supp.3d 1101


Case No. 13-cv-3351 (SRN/HB)

United States District Court, D. Minnesota.

Signed August 15, 2018

332 F.Supp.3d 1115


SUSAN RICHARD NELSON, United States District Judge

Table of Contents

I. Introduction...1116

II. Background...1117

A. Securitization...1117

B. Historical Background...1117

C. The Client Contract and the Client Guide...1118

1. Section 113: General Rules of Interpretation...1119

2. Section A200: Knowledge, Reliance and Waiver...1120

3. Section A202: Representations and Warranties...1120

4. Sections A208 and A209: Events of Default and Non-Exclusive, Cumulative Remedies...1120

5. Section A210: Repurchase...1121

6. Section A212: Indemnification...1121

D. Bankruptcy...1122

E. Procedural History...1126

III. Discussion...1127

A. Standard of Review...1127

B. Summary Judgment Motions...1127

C. Principles of the Law of Contractual Indemnity...1128

D. Principles of Contract Interpretation...1130

E. Cross Motions for Summary Judgment...1132

1. Misconduct Defense against Indemnification...1132

2. Whether Plaintiffs Can Recover Losses and Liabilities Incurred from "Expired" Loans...1137

3. Recovery for Claims Released in Bankruptcy...1141

4. Sampling...1145

F. Plaintiffs' Motions for Summary Judgment...1151

1. The Scope of Plaintiffs' Sole Discretion under the Client Guide...1151

a. The Scope of Plaintiffs' Sole Discretion to Determine Breaches...1151
332 F.Supp.3d 1116
b. The Scope of Plaintiffs' Sole Discretion to Make All Settlement Decisions...1154

2. The Scope of Plaintiffs' Potential Recovery in Indemnity...1157

a. Recovery in Indemnity for RFC's Losses and Liabilities (the Allowed Claims), Not Just Actual Losses Incurred...1158

b. Recovery for All Losses...1162

3. Causation...1162

a. Applicable Legal Standard...1163

b. Genuine Issues of Material Fact Preclude a Finding of Causation as a Matter of Law...1166

c. Causation Defenses...1169

4. Affirmative Defenses...1172

a. Estoppel...1172

i. HLC...1172

ii. Standard Pacific and CTX...1173

iii. Analysis...1174

b. Waiver Defense Based on "Assetwise"...1175

c. Knowledge- and Reliance-Based Defenses...1178

i. Breach of Contract Claim...1180

ii. Indemnity Claim...1180

d. Good Faith and Fair Dealing...1184

G. Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment...1186

1. Statute of Limitations for Loans Sold Before May 14, 2006...1186

2. Whether RFC's Expert Opinions Foreclose Relief...1191

3. Plaintiffs' Damages Models...1191

a. Breaching Loss Approach...1192

i. Whether RFC May Recover Repurchase Damages under Section A210...1192

ii. Whether RFC May Recover Repurchase Damages under the Indemnification Provisions in Section A212...1195

iii. Analysis...1197

b. Allocated Breaching Loss Approach...1198

i. Whether the Allocated Breaching Loss Approach Offers Non-Speculative Bases to Allocate the Trust Settlement...1199

(1) Allocation under UnitedHealth ...1199

(2) Defendants' Criticisms of the Methodology of the Allocated Breaching Loss Approach...1200

ii. Analysis...1203

c. Allocated Loss Approach...1204

i. Whether the Allocated Loss Approach Offers Non-Speculative Bases to Allocate the Settlements...1204

ii. Analysis...1205

IV. Conclusion...1205


Before the Court are the parties' cross motions for summary judgment on common issues in the first-wave actions.1 On June 19 and 20, 2018, the Court heard oral argument on the parties' motions. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment on Common Issues [Doc. No. 3241] is granted in part, denied in part, and denied without prejudice in part, and Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on Common Issues

332 F.Supp.3d 1117
Doc. No. 3247] is granted in part and denied in part.


A. Securitization

The majority of U.S. mortgages are financed through the securitization process. Adam J. Levitin & Susan M. Wachter, Explaining the Housing Bubble , 100 GEO. L.J. 1177, 1182, 1187 (2012). "Securitization" involves pooling large numbers of housing loans, then selling them to a trust. Baker v. CitiMortgage, Inc. , No. 17-cv-2271 (SRN/KMM), 2017 WL 6886712, at *4 (D. Minn. Dec. 21, 2017) (citing Fla. State Bd. of Admin. v. Green Tree Fin. Corp. , 270 F.3d 645, 648 (8th Cir. 2001) ). A mortgage lender raises funds for new mortgages through this process. Id. (citing BlackRock Fin.

Mgmt. Inc. v. Segregated Account of Ambac Assur. Corp., 673 F.3d 169, 173 (2d Cir. 2012) ). The trust pays for the loans by issuing securities for which the loans serve as collateral. Id. "The right to receive trust income is parceled into certificates and sold to investors, called certificateholders." Id. Purchasers of the securities often require that they be insured by monoline insurers as a hedge against investment risk. In re Barclays Bank PLC Securities Litig. , No. 09 Civ. 1989 (PAC), 2017 WL 4082305, at *4 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 13, 2017), appeal docketed , No. 17-3293 (2d Cir. Oct. 16, 2017).

B. Historical Background

In the early- to mid-2000s, a rise in home prices in the U.S. was "driven by increased demand, low interest rates, and easy credit access." Id. While an initial mortgage refinancing boom from 2001 to 2003 led to increased earnings for mortgage originators and securitizers, when long-term interest rates began to rise, the mortgage industry sought other ways to maintain origination volumes. Levitin & Wachter, supra, at 1193–94). The solution required industry players "to find more product to move in order to maintain origination volumes and, hence, earnings." Id. at 1194.

A second mortgage boom ensued after 2003, but "[b]ecause the prime borrowing pool was exhausted, it was necessary to lower underwriting standards and look more to marginal borrowers to support origination volume levels." Id. During this time period, "[l]enders provided mortgage loans to many high-risk borrowers with questionable ability to repay, fueled in large part by the opportunity to package and sell those mortgages into the growing market for [residential] mortgage-backed securities ("[R]MBSs")." In re Barclays Bank, 2017 WL 4082305, at *4.

In the mid-2000s, the "explosion in the market for [RMBS]" resulted in a securitization market frenzy. Fed. Hous. Fin. Agency for Fed. Nat'l Mortgage Ass'n v. Nomura Holding Am., Inc. , 873 F.3d 85, 96 (2d Cir. 2017) (citing Levitin & Wachter, supra , at 1192–202). It was not to last. Among other things, housing prices fell and

[l]ate 2006 and 2007 saw a dramatic rise in mortgage loan defaults, causing the value of the related securities, whose income depended on borrower payments, to deteriorate. Banks and other investors began to experience substantial losses; and many monoline insurers could not accommodate such loss, given its quick pace and dramatic size.

In re Barclays Bank, 2017 WL 4082305, at *4. The global economy experienced an unprecedented downturn in 2008 "that had a profoundly negative effect on the real estate and credit markets." S.E.C. v. True North Fin. Corp. , 909 F.Supp.2d 1073, 1083 (D. Minn. 2012) (citations omitted).

[332 F.Supp.3d 1118

C. The Client Contract and the Client Guide

Plaintiffs2 and Defendants here were all participants in the RMBS market frenzy and its ultimate collapse. Prior to RFC's May 2012 bankruptcy, it served as a middleman in the RMBS industry, both acquiring and securitizing residential mortgage loans. First, RFC purchased residential mortgage loans from numerous originating financial lenders,3 including Defendants Home Loan Center, Inc., CTX Mortgage Co., LLC, Standard Pacific Mortgage, Inc., Impac Funding Corp., iServe Residential Lending, LLC, and Freedom Mortgage Corporation (collectively, "Defendants"), and bundled them into securitization pools of thousands of loans. (See Decl. of Matthew R. Scheck ("Scheck Decl.") [Doc. No. 3258], Ex. 10 (Horst Dep. at 620–23); id. , Ex. 36 (Ruckdaschel Dep. at 40–41); id. , Ex. 19 (Corr. Hawthorne Rpt. ¶ 17).)4 RFC did not underwrite the loans; rather, it understood that the originating lenders "[were] responsible for ... underwriting prudently [and] ensuring that the loan met all of [RFC's contractual and underwriting] requirements ...." (Id. , Ex. 10 (Horst Dep. at 620–21).)

Second, in its middleman role, RFC then sold the pooled loans into residential mortgage-backed securitization ("RMBS") trusts ("the Trusts"). (See id. , Ex. 19 (Corr. Hawthorne Rpt. ¶ 17).) In the contracts that governed the relationships between RFC and the Trusts, RFC made representations and warranties ("R & Ws") concerning the underwriting quality and credit characteristics of the mortgage loans. (Id. ) The Trusts issued notes or certificates, supported by the loans' performance, which investors purchased. (Id. ) RFC additionally functioned as a "master servicer" for many of the securitizations, overseeing the work of the primary servicers. (Id. ¶ 18.)

While both parts of RFC's business model are factually relevant in this consolidated action, the legal focus of this litigation concerns Defendants' potential liability at the...

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