Judge Pratt (S.D.Iowa) ruled against the plaintiffs in the GSE shareholderr litigation, Continental Western Insurance Company v. The FHFA et al. (4:14-cv-00042, Feb. 3, 2015). The Judge’s order is mostly an analysis of why this case should be dismissed because of the doctrine of issue preclusion, which bars “‘successive litigation of an issue of fact or law actually litigated and resolved in a valid court determination essential to the prior judgment . . .'” (6, quoting Supreme Court precedent). The relevant prior judgment was Judge Lamberth’s (D.D.C.) opinion in a similar case that was decided last October.
While Judge Pratt did not reach the merits because he dismissed the case, he stated in a footnote
The Court notes that even if it were to reach the merits of Continental Western’s claims, including the allegedly new claims, it would agree with the well-reasoned opinion of the very able Judge Lamberth in Perry Capital that the case must be dismissed. Specifically the Court agrees that: (1) FHFA and Treasury did not act outside the power granted to them by HERA (see Perry Capital, 2014 WL 4829559 at *8–12); (2) HERA bars Continental Western’s claims under the APA (see id. at *7); (3) Continental Western’s claims for monetary damages based on a breach of contract and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing against FHFA must be dismissed because they are not ripe and because Continental Western’s shares of the GSEs do not contractually guarantee them a right to dividends (see id. at *15–19); and (4) Continental Western’s claim for breach of fiduciary duty by FHFA is barred by HERA because it is a derivative claim and HERA grants all shareholder rights, including the right to bring a derivative suit, to FHFA (see id. at *13–15). The Court shares in Judge Lamberth’s observation that “[i]t is understandable for the Third Amendment, which sweeps nearly all GSE profits to Treasury, to raise eyebrows, or even engender a feeling of discomfort.” Perry Capital, 2014 WL 4829559 at *24. But it is not the role of this Court to wade into the merits or motives of FHFA and Treasury’s actions—rather the Court is limited to reviewing those actions on their face and determining if they were permissible under the authority granted by HERA. (19, n.6)
This is not to say that the plaintiffs’ cases are dead in the water. Appeals courts may reach a different result from those of the trial courts. But so many of those writing on this topic refuse to see any result other than a win for plaintiffs. Time for a reality check.