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Henry v. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

February 18, 2010

DAVID HENRY, AN INDIVIDUAL; MEAGEN HENRY, AN INDIVIDUAL; DAVID KANE HENRY AND MEAGAN R. THOMAS FAMILY LIVING TRUST, A CALIFORNIA LIVING TRUST, PLAINTIFF,
v.
FEDERAL DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION, IN ITS OWN NAME AND AS RECEIVER FOR INDYMAC BANK, F.S.B.; DOES 1 THROUGH 10, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Margaret M. Morrow United States District Judge

FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

On July 11, 2008, the Office of Thrift Supervision ("OTS") closed IndyMac Bank, F.S.B. ("IndyMac") and appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation ("FDIC") as the bank's receiver pursuant to 12 U.S.C. § 1821(c)(2)(A). That same day, the FDIC formed IndyMac Federal Bank, a newly chartered depository institution, and transferred IndyMac's insured deposits to it. The FDIC made deposit insurance determinations for accounts held at IndyMac and notified depositors of the determinations via letter. Some depositors, including plaintiffs, later filed actions challenging the FDIC's deposit insurance determinations and/or alleging wrongful acts by IndyMac or its former employees prior to commencement of the receivership.

The parties filed opening briefs on July 13, 2009,*fn1 and responding briefs on July 27, 2009.*fn2 On July 31, 2009, the court granted plaintiffs' request for oral argument and set a hearing for October 19, 2009.

I. FINDINGS OF FACT

A. The Accounts

1. Plaintiffs David Henry, Meagan Henry, and the David Kane Henry and Meagan R. Thomas Living Trust ("Trust") had five accounts with IndyMac prior to July 11, 2008.*fn3

2. Prior to July 11, 2008, account XXXXXX4758 had a balance of $109,560.69, account XXXXXX4767 had a balance of $109.747.71, account XXXXXX0486 had a balance of $404,165.09, account XXXXXX8793 had a balance of $11,250.55, and account XXXXXX4185 had a balance of $100.00.*fn4 The funds deposited in the five accounts belonging to the Trust thus totalled $634,824.04.*fn5

3. All five accounts were revocable trust accounts held in the name of the Trust.*fn6

4. Meagan Henry and David Henry deposited funds to the accounts,*fn7 and were the only trustees of the Trust.*fn8

5. The Trust had eight beneficiaries: William Henry, Steven Henry, and Michael Henry, identified as brothers of David Henry; Sarah Fareli, Bridget Meckli, and Aaron Thomas, identified as sisters of Meagan Henry; Rachel Cronin, identified as the sister of both Meagan and David Henry; and John Wall, identified as a friend of Meagan and David Henry.*fn9

B. The FDIC's Insurance Determination

6. The FDIC as receiver for IndyMac assigned Melissa Howard to review deposit insurance coverage and claims arising out of IndyMac's failure. Howard reviewed the five accounts at issue in this case.*fn10

7. On August 8, 2008, Howard interviewed both depositors and explained her preliminary determination regarding the amount of insured and uninsured funds in the accounts. The Henrys provided no further material information, but asserted that, at the time they opened the accounts, IndyMac had assured them the accounts would be fully insured. The Henrys also stated that they felt the FDIC's informational material did not clearly explain the regulations governing the insuring of revocable trust accounts.*fn11

8. On August 8, 2008, Howard concluded that under the deposit insurance rules then in effect, the Trust had sixteen "beneficial relationships," defined as a relationship between one trustee and one beneficiary. Howard also concluded that only seven beneficial relationships involved qualifying beneficiaries (brothers and sisters), and that the remaining nine involved non-qualifying beneficiaries (brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, and a friend). Howard concluded that the seven qualifying beneficiaries were insured and that the nine non-qualifying beneficiaries were uninsured. She therefore found that the seven qualifying beneficiaries were insured for a one-sixteenth share of the funds,*fn12 or $277,735.52.*fn13

9. Howard determined that the remaining funds, which belonged to the nine non-qualifying beneficiaries, reverted to the single ownership of the two depositors, Meagan and David Henry. As single owners, they were insured for an additional $100,000 per depositor.*fn14

10. Howard thus concluded that the total amount insured was $477,735.52 and that the total amount uninsured was $157,088.52.*fn15

11. On August 9, 2009, the FDIC sent Meagan and David Henry a Notice of Allowance of Claim ("Notice") and a Receivership Certificate in the amount of $157,088.54.*fn16

12. Based on the FDIC's calculation that the ultimate resolution of IndyMac's assets would result in a recovery of approximately 50% of the uninsured deposits of IndyMac, FDIC sent the Henrys a 50% advance dividend of $78,544.27.

II. CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

A. Standard of Review

13. The FDIC's determination of insurance coverage is governed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Act ("FDIA"), as amended, 12 U.S.C. §§ 1811 et seq.

14. The FDIC's final determination "regarding any claim for insurance coverage [is] a final agency action reviewable in accordance with" the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA").

12 U.S.C. § 1821(f)(4). Under the APA, the court examines whether the FDIC's decision was "arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion or otherwise not in accordance with law." 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A). Accordingly, the parties agree that the relevant question the court must answer iswhether the FDIC's action was arbitrary or capricious.*fn17

15. Final agency decision is arbitrary and capricious if the agency "'has relied on factors which Congress has not intended it to consider, entirely failed to consider an important aspect of the problem, offered an explanation for its decision that runs counter to the evidence before the agency, or is so implausible that it could not be ascribed to a difference in view or the product of agency expertise.'" O'Keeffe's Inc. v. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 92 F.3d 940, 942 (9th Cir. 1996) (quoting Motor Vehicle Manufacturers' Association v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., 463 U.S. 29, 43 (1983)).

16. A district court is limited to a review of the reasoning on which the agency relied in making its decision. Safe Air for Everyone v. EPA, 488 F.3d 1088, 1091 (9th Cir. 2007) (citing SEC v. Chenery Corp., 318 U.S. 80, 87 (1943)). It can "uphold a decision of less than ideal clarity if the agency's path may reasonably be discerned." Motor Vehicles Manufacturers' Association, 463 U.S. at 43. Where an agency offers an "interpretation of its own regulation [that] reflects its considered views," even if those views are developed in response to litigation and communicated in a legal brief, the court should accept the interpretation if convinced it is not "merely a post hoc rationalization." Long Island Care at Home, Ltd. v. Coke, 551 U.S. 158, 171 (2007). See also Alaska v. Federal Subsistence Board, 544 F.3d 1089, 1094 (9th Cir. 2008) ("While we may not fabricate a rational basis for an agency's action, we will 'uphold a decision of less than ideal clarity if the agency's path may reasonably be discerned,'" quoting Motor Vehicles Manufacturers' Association, 463 U.S. at 43). "'Nevertheless, the agency must examine the relevant data and articulate a satisfactory explanation for ...


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