Santoni v. Federal Deposit Ins. Corp., No. 81-1475

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBOWNES
Citation677 F.2d 174
PartiesJuan SANTONI, Jr., et al., Appellants, v. FEDERAL DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION, Appellee.
Docket NumberNo. 81-1475
Decision Date10 May 1982

Page 174

677 F.2d 174
Juan SANTONI, Jr., et al., Appellants,
v.
FEDERAL DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION, Appellee.
No. 81-1475.
United States Court of Appeals,
First Circuit.
Argued Feb. 2, 1982.
Decided May 10, 1982.

Page 175

Richard A. Lee, San Juan, P. R., with whom Marisa Brugueras, San Juan, P. R., was on brief, for appellants.

Wayne D. Baller, Senior Atty., Washington, D. C., with whom Thomas A. Brooks, Gen. Counsel, E. Whitney Drake, Senior Atty., Washington, D. C., Roberto Boneta, and Francis, Doval, Munoz, Acevedo, Otero & Trias, Hato Rey, P. R., were on brief, for appellee.

Before GIBSON, * Senior Circuit Judge, BOWNES and BREYER, Circuit Judges.

BOWNES, Circuit Judge.

Appellants are unsuccessful bidders for an asset (a hotel) acquired by appellee, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), from a failed bank. They appeal the district court's order of summary judgment in favor of the FDIC. 508 F.Supp. 1012. The principal issue is whether the district court properly concluded that appellants' action did not involve a claim based either on an express contract or promissory estoppel, but that it sounded in tort and was, therefore, barred by the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. § 2680(a) and (h). 1

Page 176

The undisputed facts are as follows. On March 31, 1978, the Superior Court of Puerto Rico confirmed the appointment of the FDIC as receiver for the defunct Banco Credito y Ahorro Ponceno (the bank). On the same day the state court approved a liquidation plan whereby the FDIC as receiver sold Le Petit Hotel, an asset of the bank, to FDIC in its corporate capacity. The hotel, located in the Condado section of San Juan, was built in 1969, but had been abandoned later that year and had not been operated since. The FDIC's annual estimated holding expenses were calculated at $96,476, which included property taxes, insurance, guard services, maintenance, depreciation and temporary shoring to prevent the collapse of the building.

Because of these expenses and the rapid deterioration of the structure, the FDIC decided to attempt to sell the hotel. Pursuant to a published notice for closed bids, an auction was held, but the FDIC received no bids from any interested purchaser, including appellants.

Prior to the auction appellant Clemons communicated with the FDIC and expressed his interest in negotiating a purchase of the property. He suggested that the FDIC adopt a public auction or open negotiations. The FDIC responded in writing:

To state that the FDIC will obtain a higher price and/or terms in a public auction is non-supportive. All concerns (sic) will probably submit their best bid and the FDIC will have the option to reject any or all bids and to reschedule another bidding.

Furthermore, we feel that open negotiations with bidders does not necessarily mean that the best offer and/or terms can be achieved, as previously mentioned, the FDIC has the option to reject any and all bids and please be assured that the FDIC will treat all parties fairly and equitably and thereby eliminate any suspicion of collusion on behalf of this Federal Government agency. (emphasis added).

The FDIC also stated in this letter that "(t)hose parties interested in bidding should have their financing limit approved by another lending institution prior to the bidding date."

On May 17, 1979, the FDIC flatly rejected appellants' verbal offer of $400,000 and stated that $490,000 was the lowest bid acceptable to it. Appellants then wrote a letter on June 7 offering to buy the property for $490,000. But this offer was subject to several conditions, the principal one being that payment of earnest money in the sum of $10,000 and the balance of the purchase price was contingent on appellants obtaining long-term financing. On June 12, 1979, the FDIC flatly rejected the offer, stating tersely that the offer was unacceptable "due to several of your conditions and assumptions."

On July 24, 1979, a Mr. George Kogan sent a written offer of $350,000 for the hotel to the FDIC, together with a $35,000 cash deposit. On August 27, 1979, the Board of Directors of the FDIC approved the sale to Kogan for $350,000. There is no evidence in the record that at this time appellants were able to meet the FDIC financing requirements.

Based on these facts, the district court made the following findings: that the negotiations and sale to Kogan were not a sham or collusive; that the FDIC violated no rule or regulation by the sale to Kogan; that appellants did not acquire an exclusive right to purchase the property; that the FDIC made no representations that it would disclose to appellants the identity of competing bidders or the contents of their bids; and that appellants were aware at all times that the FDIC reserved the right to accept or reject any or all offers.

Page 177

Appellants argue that the grant of summary judgment was unwarranted because the FDIC made three promises to them that, when taken together, raise genuine and material factual issues as to whether an implied contract arose through promissory estoppel that bound the FDIC to inform appellants not only of competing offers but of internal agency decisions to negotiate for a price below that which the FDIC told Clemons was the lowest acceptable bid. These alleged promises include two representations by the FDIC in its November 9, 1978 letter to Clemons, stating that the FDIC retained the option to "reject any or all offers" but would "treat all parties fairly and equitably." The third alleged promise was a verbal statement by the FDIC on June 7, 1979, informing appellants that $490,000 was the lowest bid acceptable to the FDIC.

We will uphold the district court's entry of summary judgment only if, taking the record in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion, there exists no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. O'Neill v. Dell Publishing Co., Inc., 630 F.2d 685, 686 & n.1 (1st Cir. 1980); Hahn v. Sargent, 523 F.2d 461, 464 (1st Cir. 1975), cert. denied, 425 U.S. 904, 96 S.Ct. 1495, 47 L.Ed.2d 54 (1976); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); 10 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure: Civil § 2716, at 430-32 (1973).

As a threshold matter, we begin by examining whether federal or state law must be applied in evaluating appellants' promissory estoppel claim. 2 The powers of the FDIC are set forth in 12 U.S.C. § 1819. This section provides in pertinent part that the FDIC shall have the power

(t)o sue and be sued, complain and defend, in any court of law or equity, State or Federal. All suits of a civil nature at common law or in equity to which the Corporation shall be a party shall be deemed to arise under the laws of the United States, and the United States district courts shall have original jurisdiction thereof, without regard to the amount in controversy ... except that any such suit to...

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86 practice notes
  • Ellenwood v. Exxon Shipping Co., Nos. 92-1473
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • October 5, 1992
    ...§ 33 (1981). An estoppel claim similarly must be supported by a sufficiently definite promise. See Santoni v. Federal Deposit Ins. Corp., 677 F.2d 174, 178-79 (1st Cir.1982). Exxon does not--and, in our view, cannot reasonably--argue that its policy statement assuring no adverse consequence......
  • Del Sontro v. Cendant Corp., Inc., Civ. Action No. 01-4130 (WHW).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
    • August 12, 2002
    ...promise." See In re Phillips Petroleum Sec. Litig., 881 F.2d 1236, 1250 (3d Cir.1989)(quoting Santoni v. Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp., 677 F.2d 174, 179 (1st Cir.1982)). "`[A] truthful statement as to the present intention of a party with regard to his future acts is not the foundation......
  • Sontro v. Cendant Corporation, Civ. Action No. 01-4130 (WHW) (D. N.J. 2002), Civ. Action No. 01-4130 (WHW).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
    • August 1, 2002
    ...promise." See In re Phillips Petroleum Sec. Litig., 881 F.2d 1236, 1250 (3d Cir. 1989)(quoting Santoni v. Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp., 677 F.2d 174, 179 (1st Cir. 1982). "'[A] truthful statement as to the present intention of a party with regard to his future acts is not the foundatio......
  • Branch v. FDIC, Civ. A. No. 91-10976-Y
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • June 22, 1993
    ...brought pursuant to the FTCA's procedural requirements. Santoni v. Federal Deposit Ins. Corp., 508 F.Supp. 1012, 1014 (D.P.R.1981), aff'd, 677 F.2d 174 (1st Cir.1982). Thus, despite the general waiver of sovereign immunity as to FDIC-Corporate, claims against FDIC-Corporate "for money ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
86 cases
  • Ellenwood v. Exxon Shipping Co., Nos. 92-1473
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • October 5, 1992
    ...§ 33 (1981). An estoppel claim similarly must be supported by a sufficiently definite promise. See Santoni v. Federal Deposit Ins. Corp., 677 F.2d 174, 178-79 (1st Cir.1982). Exxon does not--and, in our view, cannot reasonably--argue that its policy statement assuring no adverse consequence......
  • Del Sontro v. Cendant Corp., Inc., Civ. Action No. 01-4130 (WHW).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
    • August 12, 2002
    ...promise." See In re Phillips Petroleum Sec. Litig., 881 F.2d 1236, 1250 (3d Cir.1989)(quoting Santoni v. Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp., 677 F.2d 174, 179 (1st Cir.1982)). "`[A] truthful statement as to the present intention of a party with regard to his future acts is not the foundation......
  • Sontro v. Cendant Corporation, Civ. Action No. 01-4130 (WHW) (D. N.J. 2002), Civ. Action No. 01-4130 (WHW).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
    • August 1, 2002
    ...promise." See In re Phillips Petroleum Sec. Litig., 881 F.2d 1236, 1250 (3d Cir. 1989)(quoting Santoni v. Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp., 677 F.2d 174, 179 (1st Cir. 1982). "'[A] truthful statement as to the present intention of a party with regard to his future acts is not the foundatio......
  • Branch v. FDIC, Civ. A. No. 91-10976-Y
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • June 22, 1993
    ...brought pursuant to the FTCA's procedural requirements. Santoni v. Federal Deposit Ins. Corp., 508 F.Supp. 1012, 1014 (D.P.R.1981), aff'd, 677 F.2d 174 (1st Cir.1982). Thus, despite the general waiver of sovereign immunity as to FDIC-Corporate, claims against FDIC-Corporate "for money ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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