Editor: David Reiss
Brooklyn Law School

July 3, 2013

More Misrepresentations, More Litigation

By David Reiss

Judge Pfaelzer (C.D. Cal.) issued an order in American International Group Inc. v. Bank of America Corp., No. 2:11-CV-10549 (May 6, 2013), which allowed AIG to proceed with its claim that it was fraudulently induced to buy MBS by Countrywide (now a part of BoA). This case joins a long list of cases where judges have allowed fraud and misrepresentation allegations to proceed in the context of MBS issuances (for instance, here, here and here).  AIG claims that the deal documents for the MBS “fraudulently misrepresented and concealed the actual credit quality of the mortgages by providing false quantitative data about the loans, thus masking the true credit risk of AIG’s investments.” (5, quoting the Amended Complaint)

in allowing some of the claims to proceed, the Court notes that  AIG “plausibly alleges that the underwriting guidelines stated in the Offering Documents were false. The Amended Complaint describes a company-wide culture of abandonment of underwriting standards and wholesale use of ‘exceptions’ to the normal standards. This raises an inference, however strong, that the loans in AIG’s RMBS deviated from the underwriting standards.” (28, citations omitted)

Judge Pfaelzer notes that she has repeatedly issued similar rulings regarding Countrywide’s behavior in other cases, so this comes as no surprise.  But once all of these MBS cases alleging fraud misrepresentation are decided, it will be interesting to see just what the contours of this body of law will look like.  Clearly, issuers can’t avoid liability by means of general disclaimers in the offering documents.  Will they provide clearer, more explicit disclaimers and carve-outs in the hopes of  avoiding liability in future deals or will they ensure that future deals hew more closely to the deal documents?  Time will tell.

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