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City of Los Angeles v. Citigroup Inc.

United States District Court, C.D. California

August 12, 2014

CITY OF LOS ANGELES, Plaintiff,
v.
CITIGROUP INC.; CITIBANK, N.A.; CITIMORTGAGE, INC.; CITICORP TRUST BANK, FSB; and CITI HOLDINGS, INC., Defendants.

ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR CERTIFICATION OF ORDER FOR INTERLOCUTORY APPEAL [50]

OTIS D. WRIGHT, II, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Before the Court is a Motion for Certification of Order for Immediate Appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b) filed by Defendants Citigroup Inc.; Citibank, N.A.; CitiMortgage, Inc.; Citicorp Trust Bank, FSB; and Citi Holdings, Inc. ("Defendants" or "Citi"). This is the second such motion filed in the related cases brought by Plaintiff City of Los Angeles ("L.A.") against large lending institutions for alleged discriminatory lending practices. In the Motion, Citi seeks certification of two issues for interlocutory appeal from the Court's June 9, 2014 Order Denying Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. Citi expressly incorporates the arguments made in Wells Fargo's identical motion in City of Los Angeles v. Wells Fargo, No. 2:13-cv-9007-ODW(RZx), ECF No. 42. But Citi also raises two additional arguments. For the reasons discussed below, the Court DENIES Citi's Motion.[1] (ECF No. 50.)

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

This action is one of four related cases filed by L.A. against large lending institutions for allegedly discriminatory lending practices.[2] In this case, L.A. brings two claims against Citi for (1) violating the federal Fair Housing Act ("FHA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-19, and (2) common-law restitution. (ECF No. 1.) L.A. alleges that Citi discriminated against minority borrowers in Los Angeles when issuing home loans. According to L.A., that discrimination resulted in foreclosures that decreased property-tax revenue and increased the need for municipal services.

Citi moved to dismiss and strike portions of the Complaint on several grounds, including lack of standing, expiration of the statute of limitations, and failure to state a claim. (ECF Nos. 29, 30.) On June 9, 2014, the Court denied both motions in their entirety. (ECF No. 47.) For the sake of brevity, the Court refers to and incorporates the factual background and findings from its June 9, 2014 Order here.

The present Motion was filed by Citi on July 3, 2014, expressly incorporating the arguments made by Wells Fargo in an identical motion to certify issues for interlocutory appeal in one of the related cases. See City of L.A. v. Wells Fargo, No. 2:13-cv-9007-ODW(RZx), ECF No. 42. But four days after Citi filed the instant Motion, this Court denied Wells Fargo's motion. Id. at ECF No. 48. However, on July 10, 2014, Citi filed a Notice of Supplemental Authority, citing a new decision out of the Southern District of Florida in a similar series of cases where the City of Miami has sued large banks under the FHA.[3] (ECF No. 53, Exs. A-C.)

On July 14, 2014, L.A. filed a timely opposition to Citi's Motion, addressing the Southern District of Florida cases. (ECF No. 54.) The matter is now before the Court for decision.

III. LEGAL STANDARD

Normally, appeals follow final judgment. See 28 U.S.C. § 1291; Couch v. Telescope Inc., 611 F.3d 629, 632 (9th Cir. 2010) ("[P]arties may appeal only from orders which end[] the litigation on the merits and leave[] nothing for the court to do but execute the judgment." (internal quotation marks omitted)). But there is a narrow exception to the final-judgment rule: a district court may certify a non-final order for interlocutory appeal if the order (1) "involves a controlling question of law, " (2) "as to which there is substantial ground for difference of opinion, " and (3) "an immediate appeal may materially advance the ultimate termination of the litigation." 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b). Because the requirements of § 1292(b) are jurisdictional, courts cannot certify an appeal if the circumstances do not strictly satisfy the statutory prerequisites for granting certification. Couch, 611 F.3d at 633. Certification under § 1292(b) is not routine. Indeed, interlocutory appeals are reserved only for "exceptional" cases. See Caterpillar Inc. v. Lewis, 519 U.S. 61, 74 (1996).

IV. DISCUSSION

While Citi raised several grounds for dismissal in its Motion to Dismiss, Citi seeks interlocutory appeal on only two issues:

(1) Whether the "zone-of-interests" limitation described in Lexmark International, Inc. v. Static Control Components, Inc., 134 S.Ct. 1377 (2014), and in Thompson v. North American Stainless, LP, 131 S.Ct. 863 (2011), applies to a claim under the federal Fair Housing Act, so as to limit, beyond the limitations imposed by the standing requirements of Article III, the persons "aggrieved" who may sue under the FHA.
(2) Whether a claim for "restitution" or "unjust enrichment" under California law requires a plaintiff to plead and prove the elements of a separate predicate ...

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