With the significant increase in bank failures due to the financial collapse of 2008, more loans are being taken over by the Federal Deposit Insurance Commission. While the government stepping in may make the transition of loans from failed banks to solvent banks a little easier, in cases of default and foreclosure the situation can become more complicated.
In 1942, the Supreme Court decided that any secret or implied agreements would be precluded that had the effect of reducing or diminishing the FDIC’s interests. This has come to be known as the D’Oench, Duhme doctrine, and has been further codified into the federal statutes.
In many cases, if a bank transfers its assets to another financial institution or corporation, homeowners will be able to bring claims against the original lender or the assignee of the mortgage and note. But when a bank fails, it is taken over by the FDIC, a government agency which is granted immunity in many cases.
Federal regulations give the FDIC immunity from a number of claims. Homeowners may be unable to bring any claims against the FDIC for assets of the failed bank unless the agreement is in writing and meets a number of other requirements. These requirements are the following:
No agreement which tends to diminish or defeat the interest of the Corporation in any asset acquired by it under this section or section 11, either as security for a loan or by purchase or as receiver of any insured depository institution, shall be valid against the Corporation unless such agreement–
(A) is in writing,
(B) was executed by the depository institution and any person claiming an adverse interest thereunder, including the obligor, contemporaneously with the acquisition of the asset by the depository institution,
(C) was approved by the board of directors of the depository institution or its loan committee, which approval shall be reflected in the minutes of said board or committee, and
(D) has been, continuously, from the time of its execution, an official record of the depository institution.
There are also a number of additional common law doctrines that smaller courts have relied upon when granting the FDIC immunity from homeowner or debtor lawsuits. These are termed “super holder-in-due-course” or “federal holder-in-due-course” doctrines, and allow the FDIC to claim holder-in-due-course status even if it does not meet the requirements for such status under the Uniform Commercial Code.
This immunity also typically extends to any future financial institution that purchases the assets of the failed bank from the FDIC. In most cases, the government only temporarily takes over the bank, makes sure it can keep operating for the short term, and then sells the remaining assets to other banks. Companies that purchase mortgage loans or other debts will be given immunity from claims that the FDIC would be immune to, making it even more difficult for borrowers to hold anyone accountable for actions taken before the bank failed.
Thus, homeowners may have a very difficult time bringing claims against the FDIC for the actions of the failed bank. However, there are a number of exceptions to the broad grant of immunity. Although they may only apply in a small number of cases of foreclosure, it is worth the effort for homeowners to look into these exemptions and find out if their claims against the original lender or failed bank may survive the FDIC receiving the bank.