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Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, As Receiver For Indymac Bank v. Matthew Perry

February 21, 2012

FEDERAL DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION, AS RECEIVER FOR INDYMAC BANK, F.S.B., PLAINTIFF,
v.
MATTHEW PERRY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Otis D. Wright II United States District Judge

I. INTRODUCTION

AMENDED ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS [18]

Currently before the Court is Defendant Matthew Perry's ("Perry" or "Defendant") Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation ("FDIC"), as Receiver for Indymac Bank, F.S.B.'s ("Plaintiff") Complaint. (Dkt. No. 18.) After careful consideration, the Court deems the matter appropriate for decision without oral argument. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 78; C. D. Cal. L. R. 7-15. For the following reasons, the Court DENIES Defendant's Motion.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

This case arises from Defendant's actions related to Indymac Bank, F.S.B.'s ("Indymac") investment in risky residential loans. Specifically, between at least April and October 2007, Defendant-Indymac's chief executive office ("CEO")-is alleged to have negligently permitted the production of a pool of more than $10 billion in risky, residential loans intended for sale into a secondary market. (Compl. ¶ 3.) Due to the volatility of the secondary market, however, Indymac was forced by the fourth quarter of 2007 to transfer the loans into its own investment portfolio. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendant's actions, whereby he chose to aggressively gamble by investing in these risky loans, were beyond what a reasonable banker would have done under similar circumstances. (Compl. ¶¶ 3, 97--98.) As a result, the loans that had to be transferred into Indymac's investment portfolio generated substantial losses in excess of $600 million. (Compl. ¶ 3.) On July 11, 2008, Indymac ultimately closed and the FDIC was appointed as its receiver. (Compl. ¶ 13.)

Based on the foregoing, Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 12 U.S.C. § 1821(d)(2) and 12 U.S.C. § 1821(k) alleging that Defendant, as CEO, breached his duties to Indymac and acted negligently in allowing Indymac to continue to generate and purchase loans for sale into the secondary market.*fn1 (Compl. ¶ 97.) As a result of the Defendant's conduct, Plaintiff alleges that it was damaged in a sum in excess of $600 million. (Compl. ¶ 98.)

III. LEGAL STANDARD

"To survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint generally must satisfy only the minimal notice pleading requirements of Rule 8(a)(2)." Porter v. Jones, 319 F.3d 483, 494 (9th Cir. 2003). Rule 8(a)(2) requires "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). For a complaint to sufficiently state a claim, its "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 555 (2007). Mere "labels and conclusions" or a "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Id. Rather, to overcome a 12(b)(6) motion, "a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (internal quotation and citation omitted). "The plausibility standard is not akin to a probability requirement, but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully. Where a complaint pleads facts that are merely consistent with a defendant's liability, it stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement of relief." Id. (internal quotation and citation omitted).

When considering a 12(b)(6) motion, a court is generally limited to considering materials within the pleadings and must construe "[a]ll factual allegations set forth in the complaint . . . as true and . . . in the light most favorable to [the plaintiff]." See Lee v. City of L.A., 250 F.3d 668, 688 (9th Cir. 2001)(citing Epstein v. Wash. Energy Co., 83 F.3d 1136, 1140 (9th Cir. 1996)). A court is not, however, "required to accept as true allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences." Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001). Thus, the Ninth Circuit has summarized the governing standard, in light of Twombly and Iqbal, as follows: "In sum, for a complaint to survive a motion to dismiss, the nonconclusory factual content, and reasonable inferences from that content, must be plausibly suggestive of a claim entitling the plaintiff to relief." Moss v. U.S. Secret Serv., 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks omitted).

IV. DISCUSSION

The parties dispute as to whether the business judgment rule ("BJR") protects corporate officers as well as directors from judicial second guessing business decisions made on behalf of the corporation. Specifically, Defendant moves to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint arguing that the allegations fail to plead facts sufficient to overcome BJR. In making this argument, Defendant contends that California law applies BJR to corporate decision makers including both directors and officers. In addition, Defendant avers that even if BJR does not apply to officers, the Complaint focuses on Indymac's allegedly flawed core business strategy. Thus, Defendant argues that BJR applies in this case as the allegations implicate Defendant's performance as a director and not as his role as Indymac's CEO. In any event, Defendant contends that BJR applies and insulates him from personal liability related to his actions during the alleged time period prior to Indymac's demise.

Plaintiff opposes Defendant's Motion arguing that BJR does not apply to officers in California. Likewise, Plaintiff contends that Defendant is being sued in his capacity as Indymac's CEO as opposed to his role as director, and consequently, Plaintiff argues that BJR need not apply. As a result, Plaintiff contends that it was not required to plead around this defense. Moreover, Plaintiff avers that the issue of whether BJR applies to officers is not properly before this Court pursuant to a Rule 12(b)(6) motion.

As an initial matter, plaintiffs generally need not anticipate a defense. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(b)-(c); see also Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640 (1980) (holding the burden of pleading a defense rests with the defendant). Where the complaint's allegations, however, reveal the existence of an affirmative defense, as Defendant argues here, plaintiffs must plead around the defense, by alleging specific facts that would avoid the apparent defense as Defendant argues. Doe II v. Myspace, Inc., 175 Cal. App. 4th 561, 566 (Ct. App. 2009) (citation and quotation omitted). "Absent such allegations, the complaint is subject to demurrer for failure to state a cause of action . . . ." Id. at 566 (citation omitted); Berg & Berg Enters., LLC v. Boyle, et al., 178 Cal. App. 4th 1020, 1046 (Ct. App. 2009) ("[T]he failure to sufficiently plead facts to rebut the business judgment rule or establish its exceptions may be raised on demurrer, as whether sufficient facts have been so pleaded is a question of law." (citations omitted)). Thus, if BJR applies to corporate officers under California law, the Complaint must include facts pleading around the defense. The Court holds, however, that Plaintiff was not required to plead around BJR because BJR does not apply to corporate decisions of officers in California.

At first blush, Defendant's argument that BJR applies to both corporate directors as well as officers seems viable. Many California courts, when mentioning BJR, have repeatedly lumped officers and directors together without distinction, albeit in dicta. In addition, and not surprisingly, the distinction as to whether BJR applies to both corporate officers and directors has been the subject of much academic debate as the ...


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