Joy v. North, 1050

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
Citation692 F.2d 880
Docket NumberD,No. 1050,1050
PartiesFed. Sec. L. Rep. P 98,860 Athalie Doris JOY, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Nelson L. NORTH, et al., Defendants, Nelson L. North, et al., Defendants-Appellees. ocket 81-7729.
Decision Date04 November 1982

A. Reynolds Gordon, Bridgeport, Conn. (Arthur A. Hiller, Lucille J. Becker, Gordon & Hiller, Bridgeport, Conn., of counsel), for plaintiff-appellant.

Francis J. Brady, Hartford, Conn. (John S. Murtha, Murtha, Cullina, Richter & Pinney, Hartford, Conn., of counsel), for defendants-appellees Citytrust and Citytrust Bancorp, Inc.

Ralph C. Dixon, Hartford, Conn. (James L. Ackerman, Felix J. Springer, Day, Berry & Howard, Hartford, Conn., of counsel), for the nineteen individually named defendants-appellees.

Richard F. Lawler, Stamford, Conn. (Whitman & Ranson, Stamford, Conn., of counsel), for defendant-appellee North.

J. Daniel Sagarin, Milford, Conn. (Harrigan, Hurwitz, Sagarin & Rutkin, Milford, Conn., of counsel), for defendant-appellee Sagarin.

David Maclay, Bridgeport, Conn., for defendants-appellees Connecticut Financial Services Corp. and Citytrust.

William Secor, Jr., Waterbury, Conn., for defendants Miller and Kellogg.

Before OAKES, CARDAMONE and WINTER, Circuit Judges.

RALPH K. WINTER, Circuit Judge:

This is an appeal from a grant of summary judgment for defendants by the District Court for the District of Connecticut, Eginton, Judge, dismissing a derivative action against certain directors and officers of Citytrust upon a recommendation of a special litigation committee and placing that report under seal. 519 F.Supp. 1312 (D.Conn.1981).

We reverse.

BACKGROUND

In October of 1977, Dr. Athalie Doris Joy brought this shareholder's derivative suit on behalf of Connecticut Financial Services Corporation (now Citytrust Bancorp, Inc.) against its wholly-owned banking subsidiary, Citytrust, 1 and the officers and directors of Citytrust. Both corporations are incorporated in Connecticut. The complaint alleged diversity of citizenship, common law breach of trust and of fiduciary duty as well as violations of the National Bank Act, 12 U.S.C. Sec. 84 (1976), which limits aggregate loans to a single person or entity to 10% of a bank's combined stockholder equity and capital. The allegations concern loans made by Citytrust to the Katz Corporation ("Katz") for construction of an office building in a redevelopment area of Norwalk, Connecticut. Plaintiff seeks a $6 million recovery plus interest and attorney's fees.

The underlying transactions need only be briefly summarized at this point. In 1967, Citytrust entered into a 20-year term lease agreement for approximately 9% of an office building which Katz was planning to build in Norwalk. Katz, then a respected developer, signed a $4 million construction mortgage for a one-and-a-half year term on January 12, 1971. Although the mortgage was written through and recorded in the name of Citytrust, Chase Manhattan Bank provided the bulk of the financing, $3.5 million, with Citytrust participating to the extent of $500,000. At this time, Katz had already borrowed, largely in unsecured form, an additional $250,000 from Citytrust to finance construction of the office building. As the building neared completion in early 1972, Katz had drawn down the full value of the $4 million mortgage. At its expiration in June, 1972, the Chase mortgage In June, 1973, with the building only half rented, the First National City mortgage was extended for a year. Katz's unsecured debt to Citytrust had by now climbed to $1,840,000. In November, in conjunction with the issuance of yet another loan to Katz, Citytrust obtained a blanket second mortgage on the building and on other Katz properties to secure what was now a total loan balance of $2,140,000. Shortly thereafter, the First National City mortgage was extended to August, 1975, and Citytrust lent Katz another $300,000. Just prior to this extension of credit, the National Bank Examiners classified the Katz loans.

was replaced by a $4.5 million mortgage by First National City Bank, with Citytrust both issuing the mortgage and participating to the extent of $90,000. Meanwhile, Katz continued to receive unsecured loans from Citytrust. By December, 1972, that unsecured debt reached $900,000, for a total of $990,000 in Citytrust loans related to the building.

In April, 1975, a refinancing plan was completed with Lincoln National Life Insurance Company providing a $6 million loan to a Katz-related partnership which had taken title to the building. The loan was secured by a first mortgage on the building and was used to consolidate Katz's debt. As a condition of the new financing, Citytrust was required to take a 30-year master lease on the still largely unrented building at a rental equaling the mortgage payments to Lincoln National, in effect guaranteeing Katz's $6 million obligation to Lincoln. In addition to undertaking the master lease, Citytrust had by now extended $2,665,000 in loans to Katz.

In May, 1975, the National Bank Examiners classified $2 million of the Katz loans as doubtful and required a charge off of $665,000. On August 18, 1976, in an apparent effort to salvage what was left of its position, Citytrust's Board of Directors authorized loans which exceeded the 10% federal statutory limit. After these loans were consummated, Katz's total indebtedness to Citytrust reached $3,545,000. On October 20, 1976, Citytrust charged off the $2 million remaining on the second mortgage.

On June 13, 1977, the Katz-related partnership relinquished title to the building to Citytrust in exchange for a release from its obligation to Lincoln National and a release of personal guarantees previously assumed by members of the Katz family. Citytrust thus directly assumed the $6 million Lincoln National mortgage. In October, 1977, Second Nutmeg Financial purchased the building for $9,600,000 which consisted of its assumption of the $6 million Lincoln National mortgage and a $3,600,000 note to Citytrust secured by a second mortgage. There is an indication in the District Court record that an affiliate of Second Nutmeg which later acquired the building has defaulted and Citytrust once again owns it, along with the concurrent obligations. There is no indication that rental income is now adequate to meet those obligations, and we appear free to assume that the other Katz properties covered by the second mortgage are not of any significant value.

In October, 1977, Joy commenced this action after making an unsuccessful demand on the Directors of Citytrust. During the pendency of this case, the Supreme Court decided Burks v. Lasker, 441 U.S. 471, 99 S.Ct. 1831, 60 L.Ed.2d 404 (1979), holding that federal courts must apply state law in determining the authority of a committee of independent directors to discontinue derivative suits even in many cases which arise under federal law. Immediately following the Burks decision, the Board of Directors of Citytrust and Connecticut Financial Services Corporation authorized the establishment of a Special Litigation Committee to determine whether continued prosecution of this derivative action would be in the best interests of the corporation. The Committee consisted of two Board members, Marion S. Kellogg and Ernest C. Trefz. 2 Kellogg was elected to the Board By resolution dated August 15, 1979, the full Board of Directors, a majority of whom were defendants, voted to delegate to the Committee the power to review, investigate and analyze the circumstances surrounding the pending derivative action. The Committee retained independent counsel, John Murtha, Esquire, to assist its investigation.

of Directors on July 21, 1976 and commenced service on September 15, 1976. Trefz was elected to the Board on December 15, 1976 and commenced service on January 3, 1977. Neither is a defendant in this action. 3

Nine months later, the Committee issued a Report recommending that the suit be discontinued as to 23 defendants, 20 of whom were outside directors of either Citytrust or Connecticut Financial Services and three of whom were either officers or directors or both. (The 23 will hereafter be referred to as the "outside defendants"). The Committee concluded there was "no reasonable possibility" that the outside defendants would be found liable. Its Report also recommended that settlement be considered with regard to seven defendants who were the senior officers most directly involved in the Katz loans. (These seven will hereafter be referred to as the "inside defendants"). As to them, the Committee found there was a "possibility" that one or more might be found to have been negligent. Counsel for the Committee made it clear to the District Court, however, that the decision to pursue settlement was not necessarily a decision to press the litigation against the inside defendants. If settlement is not reached, the Committee will reconsider whether to recommend termination of that portion of the action also.

When plaintiff declined to withdraw the action as to the outside defendants, the corporation filed a motion to dismiss the case as to them. The District Court permitted discovery on the limited issue of the Committee's "bona fides, motivation and thoroughness." 519 F.Supp. at 1315. Portions of the Committee Report, consisting of a summary and a detailed presentation of the Committee's factual findings, supplemented by expert opinion letters and counsel's memorandum of law, were produced. These documents were put under seal pursuant to a protective order. Plaintiff was also allowed to depose a variety of persons involved in the underlying transactions and in preparation of the Report, to pose interrogatories to others, and to see various documents relating to the Report.

After discovery, Judge Eginton granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment, the protective order remaining in force. Concluding that no...

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