Effex Capital, LLC v. Nat'l Futures Ass'n, No. 18-1914

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtRipple, Circuit Judge.
Parties EFFEX CAPITAL, LLC, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. NATIONAL FUTURES ASSOCIATION, et al., Defendants-Appellees.
Docket NumberNo. 18-1914
Decision Date13 August 2019

933 F.3d 882

EFFEX CAPITAL, LLC, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
NATIONAL FUTURES ASSOCIATION, et al., Defendants-Appellees.

No. 18-1914

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit.

Argued November 29, 2018
Decided August 13, 2019
Rehearing En Banc Denied October 2, 2019


Adam B. Goodman, Attorney, Goodman Tovrov Hardy & Johnson LLC, Chicago, IL, Joseph N. Paykin, Attorney, Paykin Krieg & Adams, LLP, Purchase, NY, for Plaintiffs-Appellants.

Gregory M. Boyle, Attorney, Jenner & Block LLP, Chicago, IL, Adam G. Unikowsky, Attorney, Jenner & Block LLP, Washington, DC, for Defendants-Appellees.

Before Flaum, Ripple, and Manion, Circuit Judges.

Ripple, Circuit Judge.

Effex Capital, LLC ("Effex"), brought this action alleging that the National Futures Association (the "NFA") had defamed it in documents related to a settlement between the NFA and one of its members, Forex Capital Markets, LLC ("FXCM").1 It sought injunctive relief and

933 F.3d 885

damages. The district court dismissed the action, holding that Effex had failed to exhaust its administrative remedies.2 Effex timely appealed the district court's dismissal.3

For the reasons set forth more fully in the following opinion, we now affirm the judgment of the district court.4 In the Commodity Exchange Act, 7 U.S.C. § 1 et seq ., Congress has regulated comprehensively all matters relating to NFA discipline. As such, a federal Bivens remedy is unavailable.5 Further, the Commodity Exchange Act preempts Effex's state law claims. Any remedy available to Effex must be based on the provisions of that statute.

I

BACKGROUND

A.

We begin our consideration of this matter with a summary discussion of the relevant provisions of the Commodity Exchange Act. In its current form,6 the

933 F.3d 886

Commodity Exchange Act seeks to curb price manipulation, ensure the financial integrity of commodities transactions, avoid systemic risk, protect market participants from fraud or abusive sales practices, and promote responsible and fair competition within the commodities market. 7 U.S.C. § 5(b). The Commodity Exchange Act serves these public interests "through a system of effective self-regulation of trading facilities, clearing systems, market participants and market professionals under the oversight of the Commission."7 Id. As part of this regulatory scheme, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission Act of 1974 authorized the creation of registered futures associations as self-regulatory organizations ("SRO") to complement the Commodity Futures Trading Commission's (the "Commission" or the "CFTC") regulation of commodity futures markets and their participants.8

The Commodity Exchange Act requires that SROs set forth many types of regulations and rules, including rules that "provide that its members and persons associated with its members shall be appropriately disciplined ... for any violation of its rules." 7 U.S.C. § 21(b)(8). Moreover, disciplinary proceedings against members and persons permitted to register as "associate[s]"9 of a member must follow "fair and orderly procedure[s]." Id. § 21(b)(9). This mandate includes requiring "that specific charges be brought; that such member or person shall be notified of, and be given an opportunity to defend against, such charges; that a record shall be kept; and that the

933 F.3d 887

determination shall include" statements setting forth the impermissible acts the member or person took, the rules violated, and penalty imposed. Id. ; see also 17 C.F.R. § 170.6(b) (requiring the SRO to "[c]onduct proceedings in a manner consistent with the fundamental elements of due process").

The statute provides for CFTC review of an SRO's disciplinary action. It requires that SROs "promptly shall give notice" of any final disciplinary action against a member or person associated with a member "to such member or person and file notice thereof with the Commission." 7 U.S.C. § 21(h)(1). Final disciplinary actions are "subject to review by the Commission on its motion, or on application by any person aggrieved by the action." Id. § 21(h)(2).10 The accompanying regulations permit appeal to the Commission by "[a]ny party aggrieved by the final decision of the National Futures Association in a disciplinary ... action." 17 C.F.R. § 171.23(a). The regulations define a party as "any person who has been the subject of a disciplinary action ... by the National Futures Association; the National Futures Association itself; [and] any person granted permission to participate as a party pursuant to § 171.27 of these rules." 17 C.F.R. § 171.2(i). Section 171.27 provides that, "[u]pon motion of any interested person or, on its own motion, the Commission may permit, or solicit, limited participation in the proceeding by such interested person." 17 C.F.R. § 171.27(a). Interested persons include "parties and any other persons who might be adversely affected or aggrieved by the outcome of a proceeding; ... and any other person having a direct or indirect pecuniary or other interest in the outcome of a proceeding." Id. § 171.27(b). Intervention by such an interested person is appropriate "[i]f the Commission determines that participation would serve the public interest." Id. § 171.27(a). Beyond these specific regulations regarding application for Commission review of an SRO's disciplinary action, there is a general regulation that permits the Commission to "waive any rule" in § 171 "in a particular case" and "order proceedings in accordance with its direction" if waiver would "prevent undue hardship on any party or for any other good cause shown." 17 C.F.R. § 171.14. An order under this provision "shall be based upon a determination that no party will be prejudiced thereby and that the ends of justice will be served," and "[r]easonable notice" shall be "given to all parties of any action taken." Id.

The CFTC has the power to "set aside the sanction imposed by the [SRO] and, if appropriate, remand the case to the [SRO] for further proceedings." 7 U.S.C. § 21(i)(1)(B) ; see also 17 C.F.R. § 171.33(a) ("Upon review, the Commission may affirm, modify, set aside, or remand for further proceedings, in whole or in part, the decision of the National Futures Association."). The Commission's decision may be appealed to the appropriate United States Court of Appeals. 7 U.S.C. § 21(i)(4) ("Any person aggrieved by a final order of the Commission ... may file a petition for

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review with a United States court of appeals....").

B.

The NFA is an SRO that is registered under the Commodity Exchange Act.11 It is subject to the broad authority of the CFTC. See 7 U.S.C. § 21. This authority includes review of NFA disciplinary actions or denials of membership. Id. § 21(h).

Effex is a closely held, foreign-currency trading firm managed and controlled by John Dittami. It operates as an institutional over-the-counter, foreign-exchange liquidity provider and engages solely in transactions with other eligible contract participants such as financial institutions or highly capitalized trading counterparts. Because of the nature of Effex's trading, it is not subject to regulation by the NFA and is therefore not a member of the NFA.12

In accordance with its responsibilities under the Commodity Exchange Act, the NFA initiated an investigation into an association member, FXCM, and found that the company had engaged in several practices that violate the NFA's rules. FXCM chose to settle with the NFA, and on February 6, 2017, the NFA released several documents related to the settlement (collectively, the "FXCM Settlement Documents").13 These documents include: (1) a complaint setting forth the NFA's allegations against FXCM; (2) a decision by the NFA Business Conduct Committee finding that FXCM committed the violations outlined in the complaint and detailing the terms of a settlement between the NFA and FXCM; (3) a publicly accessible narrative summarizing the decision; and (4) a press release announcing the decision and directing the public to the narrative posted on the NFA's website.

The NFA's complaint against FXCM alleged that FXCM failed to comply with a litany of NFA rules. More pertinently, the NFA claimed that Effex was involved in the misconduct allegedly committed by FXCM. The resulting decision outlined the allegations in the complaint, including those involving Effex, and accepted them as true. The accompanying narrative summarized the decision, including its statements about Effex. The press release, although it did not specifically reference Effex, noted that FXCM committed numerous deceptive and abusive actions and directed the public to the narrative on the NFA's website. Effex alleges that the NFA's findings in the FXCM Settlement Documents are false and that their publication is defamatory.

Although its investigation into FXCM implicated Effex, the NFA did not contact Effex or provide Effex with notice of the investigation. The CFTC, on the other hand, conducted its own investigation into FXCM. As part of its investigation, the Commission subpoenaed...

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8 practice notes
  • Greyer v. Ill. Dep't of Corr., No. 18-1290
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • August 13, 2019
    ...problems we have seen here: "While you were incarcerated or detained in any facility, have you filed any case in any court of the United 933 F.3d 882 States that was dismissed as frivolous, malicious, or for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted? List all such cases that......
  • Blake v. Bradley, 20 C 5856
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • March 23, 2022
    ...that provides a remedy (namely, the Commodities Exchange Act) precluded a Bivens claim. See Effex Cap., LLC v. Nat'l Futures Ass'n, 933 F.3d 882, 892 (7th Cir. 2019) (“An alternative remedial structure counseling hesitation against expanding the Bivens remedy is certainly present here . . .......
  • Kumaran v. Nat'l Futures Ass'n, 1:20-CV-3668 (GHW)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • July 2, 2020
    ..."The NFA is a[] [self-regulatory organization (SRO)] that is registered under the [CEA]." Effex Capital, LLC v. Nat'l Futures Ass'n, 933 F.3d 882, 888 (7th Cir. 2019), cert. denied, 140 S. Ct. 1122 (2020); McCrudden v. Nat'l Futures Ass'n, No. 13-CV-6930, 2014 WL 4412470, *1 (S.D.N.Y. Sept.......
  • Slowinski v. Forces of Nature, Inc., Case No. 20 CV 2381
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • March 26, 2021
    ...(7th Cir. 2010); and then Guilbeau v. Pfizer Inc., 880 F.3d 304, 310 (7th Cir. 2018)); see also Effex Capital, LLC v. Nat'l Futures Ass'n, 933 F.3d 882, 893 (7th Cir. 2019), cert. denied, 140 S. Ct. 1122 (2020). Defendant's brief fails to make clear which form (or forms) of preemption ought......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
8 cases
  • Greyer v. Ill. Dep't of Corr., No. 18-1290
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • August 13, 2019
    ...problems we have seen here: "While you were incarcerated or detained in any facility, have you filed any case in any court of the United 933 F.3d 882 States that was dismissed as frivolous, malicious, or for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted? List all such cases that......
  • Blake v. Bradley, 20 C 5856
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • March 23, 2022
    ...that provides a remedy (namely, the Commodities Exchange Act) precluded a Bivens claim. See Effex Cap., LLC v. Nat'l Futures Ass'n, 933 F.3d 882, 892 (7th Cir. 2019) (“An alternative remedial structure counseling hesitation against expanding the Bivens remedy is certainly present here . . .......
  • Kumaran v. Nat'l Futures Ass'n, 1:20-CV-3668 (GHW)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • July 2, 2020
    ..."The NFA is a[] [self-regulatory organization (SRO)] that is registered under the [CEA]." Effex Capital, LLC v. Nat'l Futures Ass'n, 933 F.3d 882, 888 (7th Cir. 2019), cert. denied, 140 S. Ct. 1122 (2020); McCrudden v. Nat'l Futures Ass'n, No. 13-CV-6930, 2014 WL 4412470, *1 (S.D.N.Y. Sept.......
  • Slowinski v. Forces of Nature, Inc., Case No. 20 CV 2381
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • March 26, 2021
    ...(7th Cir. 2010); and then Guilbeau v. Pfizer Inc., 880 F.3d 304, 310 (7th Cir. 2018)); see also Effex Capital, LLC v. Nat'l Futures Ass'n, 933 F.3d 882, 893 (7th Cir. 2019), cert. denied, 140 S. Ct. 1122 (2020). Defendant's brief fails to make clear which form (or forms) of preemption ought......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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