Justia Construction Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Banking
Parke Bancorp Inc., et al. v. 659 Chestnut LLC
Parke Bancorp (“Parke”) made a loan to 659 Chestnut LLC (“659 Chestnut”) in 2016 to finance the construction of an office building in Newark, Delaware. 659 Chestnut pleaded a claim in the Superior Court for money damages in the amount of a 1% prepayment penalty it had paid under protest when it paid off the loan. The basis of 659 Chestnut’s claim was that the parties were mutually mistaken as to the prepayment penalty provisions of the relevant loan documents. Parke counterclaimed for money damages in the amount of a 5% prepayment penalty, which it claimed was provided for in the agreement. After a bench trial, the Superior Court agreed with 659 Chestnut and entered judgment in its favor. After review, the Delaware Supreme Court reversed and directed entry of judgment in Parke’s favor on 659 Chestnut’s claim. Although Parke loan officer Timothy Cole negotiated on behalf of Parke and represented to 659 Chestnut during negotiations that there was a no-penalty window, the parties stipulated that: (1) everyone knew that Cole did not have authority to bind Parke to loan terms; and (2) everyone also knew that any terms proposed by Cole required both final documentation and approval by Parke’s loan committee. It was evident to the Supreme Court that 659 Chestnut did not offer clear and convincing evidence that Parke’s loan committee agreed to something other than the terms in the final loan documents. Accordingly, it Directed entry of judgment for Parke. View "Parke Bancorp Inc., et al. v. 659 Chestnut LLC" on Justia Law
LeGrand Johnson Construction Co. v. Celtic Bank Corp.
The Supreme Court reversed the decision to award prejudgment interest to LeGrand and concluded that Celtic Bank was the prevailing party on the prejudgment interest issues.LeGrand Johnson Construction Company filed an action seeking to enforce its mechanic’s lien on property owned by B2AC, LLC for the unpaid value of construction services, and Celtic Bank, B2AC’s lender, sought to foreclose on the same property after B2AC failed to pay on its loan. The action resulted in a lien for $237,294 and an award of attorney fees and costs. Thereafter, the district court determined that LeGrand’s lien, rather than Celtic Bank’s lien, had priority and awarded LeGrand attorney fees and costs. The court then ruled that LeGrand was entitled to recover eighteen percent in prejudgment and postjudgment interest from Celtic Bank based on LeGrand’s contract with B2AC. The Supreme Court (1) reinforced its holding in Jordan Construction, Inc. v. Federal National Mortgage Ass’n, 408 P.3d 296 (Utah 2017), that prejudgment interest is not available under the 2008 version of the Utah Mechanic’s Lien Act; and (2) vacated the attorney fee award because it was based, in part, on the notion that LeGrand had succeeded in establishing its right to prejudgment interest. View "LeGrand Johnson Construction Co. v. Celtic Bank Corp." on Justia Law
Aliant Bank v. Four Star Investments, Inc.
Aliant Bank, a division of USAmeribank ("Aliant"), sued various individuals and business entities involved in a failed effort to develop the Twelve Oaks subdivision in Odenville, alleging that, as a result of those defendants' conspiracy and wrongful actions, Aliant's security interest in the property upon which the Twelve Oaks subdivision was to be built had been rendered worthless. The Circuit Court ultimately entered a number of orders either dismissing Aliant's claims or entering a summary judgment in favor of the various defendants. Aliant filed three appeals. In appeal no. 1150822, the Alabama Supreme Court reversed summary judgment against Aliant: (1) on the negligence and breach-of-fiduciary duty claims asserted against the Board members in count four of Aliant's complaint; (2) on the fraudulent-misrepresentation and fraudulent-suppression claims asserted against Bobby Smith and Twelve Oaks Properties in count seven of Aliant's complaint; and (3) on the conspiracy claims asserted against Smith, Twelve Oaks Properties, Four Star Investments, Mize, and Billy Smith in count seven of Aliant's complaint. The Court affirmed summary judgment against Aliant and in favor of the various Twelve Oaks defendants in all other respects. In appeal no. 1150823, the Court reversed the summary judgments entered against Aliant on the fraudulent misrepresentation and conspiracy claims asserted against Pfil Hunt, and his management company Wrathell, Hunt & Associates, LLC, in count seven of Aliant's complaint; however, the Court affirmed those summary judgments with regard to all other claims asserted by Aliant against Hunt and WHA. Finally, in appeal no. 1150824, the Court affirmed summary judgment against Aliant and in favor of the Engineers of the South, LLC defendants on all counts. View "Aliant Bank v. Four Star Investments, Inc." on Justia Law
deNourie & Yost Homes, LLC v. Frost
Homeowners obtained loans from Bank for the construction of a new home and entered into an agreement with Contractor to complete the new home construction. When Homeowners defaulted on payments owed to Contractor and on both loans, the house was sold at foreclosure, and Homeowners filed for bankruptcy. Contractor filed a fourth amended complaint against Homeowners, who were later dismissed as parties, and Bank. Following a trial the court granted summary judgment for Bank on Contractor’s claims of fraud and civil conspiracy. The Supreme Court reversed. After remand, Contractor filed a fifth amended complaint, which differed from the fourth amended complaint in several respects. The district court determined that the election of remedies doctrine and judicial estoppel required a dismissal of Contractor’s claims. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Contractor’s claims were consistently premised on the existence of a contract, and therefore, no election was required; and (2) Contractor’s claims were based on different facts and obligations, and therefore, both could be pursued. View "deNourie & Yost Homes, LLC v. Frost" on Justia Law
United Cent. Bank v. Davenport Estate LLC
In 2008, Mutual Bank (UCB’s predecessor) made loans to the investors to purchase three properties and agreed to loan the investors $700,000 for repairs and renovations. The $700,000 was placed in escrow, but the parties did not enter into a written escrow agreement. Once the investors exhausted other resources on repairs, they requested the $700,000, but never received the money. In 2009, the FDIC shut down Mutual Bank for gross negligence. UCB acquired Mutual’s loans and assets. The investors made repeated demands on UCB to release the $700,000 in escrow but did not receive the money. In 2010, UCB brought suit against the investors to foreclose on the properties and enforce related promissory notes and guarantees. The investors brought counterclaims, including a claim that UCB’s refusal to release the escrow funds constituted a breach of contract. The district court dismissed, citing the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act, 12 U.S.C. 1823(e)(1)(A), and the Illinois Credit Agreement Act. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The escrow agreement that forms the basis for the counterclaim tends to diminish the interests of the FDIC and its assignee UCB. Since the agreement was not properly memorialized in writing, the agreement does not meet the requirements of section 1823(e). View "United Cent. Bank v. Davenport Estate LLC" on Justia Law
United States v. Churn
Churn, the owner of a Tennessee construction company, was convicted of seven counts of bank fraud stemming from two schemes in which he received bank loans ostensibly to construct houses, but performed little to no work. The district court sentenced him to 33 months in prison and ordered restitution of $237,950.50. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments that the district court made evidentiary errors concerning admission of an email statement, admission of testimony concerning a permit, and admission of evidence about another transaction, and that the amount of restitution exceeded a statutory maximum under the Victims Restitution Act, 18 U.S.C. 3663A. View "United States v. Churn" on Justia Law
VCS Inc. v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc.
At issue in this case was the effect of a subordination agreement between fewer than all of the creditors who hold an interest in the same collateral. Appellant VCS, Inc. provided labor and materials to improve real property located in a planned unit development. The developer, Acord Meadows, secured funding for the project from America West Bank and Utah Funding Commercial. The loans were secured with trust deeds to the development properties, and the lenders entered into subordination agreements among themselves that altered the priority arrangement of their trust deeds. Because VCS was never paid for its work, it filed a mechanic’s lien covering several lots of the development, four of which were sold through a foreclosure sale after Acord defaulted on its loans from Utah Funding. VCS claimed it was entitled to payment of its mechanic’s lien because its lien had priority over Utah Funding’s liens. The district court ruled that VCS’s mechanic’s lien was extinguished by the foreclosure of Utah Funding’s liens. The Supreme Court affirmed after adopting the partial subordination approach to the issue in this case, holding that under the partial subordination approach, VCS’s mechanic’s lien was extinguished once Utah Funding’s lien was foreclosed upon. View "VCS Inc. v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc." on Justia Law
BB Syndication Servs, Inc. v. First Am. Title Ins. Co
A large commercial development in Kansas City, Missouri was aborted in the middle of construction due to cost overruns. When the developer would not cover the shortfall, the construction lender stopped releasing committed loan funds, and contractors filed liens against the property for their unpaid work on the unfinished project. Bankruptcy followed, and the contractors’ liens were given priority over the lender’s security interest in the failed development, leaving little recovery for the lender. The lender looked to its title insurer for indemnification. The title policy generally covers lien defects, but it also contains a standard exclusion for liens “created, suffered, assumed or agreed to” by the insured lender. The Seventh Circuit affirmed judgment in favor of the title company. The exclusion applies to the liens at issue, which resulted from the lender’s cutoff of loan funds, so the title insurer owed no duty to indemnify. The liens arose from insufficient project funds, a risk of loss that the lender, not the title company, had authority and responsibility to discover, monitor, and prevent. View "BB Syndication Servs, Inc. v. First Am. Title Ins. Co" on Justia Law
Luana Savings Bank v. Pro-Build Holdings, Inc.
After a bank acquired an apartment complex by deed in lieu of foreclosure the bank discovered substantial black mold in the units. The bank sued the builder, alleging, inter alia, that the builder breached the implied warranty of workmanlike construction. The district court granted summary judgment to the builder on the implied warranty claim. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the bank may not recover under the implied warranty of workmanlike construction, as the implied warranty of workmanlike construction does not extend to a lender acquiring apartment buildings by a deed in lieu of foreclosure. View "Luana Savings Bank v. Pro-Build Holdings, Inc." on Justia Law
Emond Plumbing & Heating, Inc. v. BankNewport
AIDG Properties, LLC, a real-estate holding company managed by Anjan Dutta-Gupta, purchased property. AIDG obtained loans from BankNewport (Defendant) to finance the purchase and to perform improvements. Dutta-Gupta personally guaranteed the loans. Emond Plumbing & Heating, Inc. and Tecta America New England, LLC (collectively, Plaintiffs) served as subcontractors on the project. Plaintiffs substantially completed the renovations, and BankNewport deposited the loan proceeds into AIDG’s account. After Dutta-Gupta was arrested, Defendant declared Dutta-Gupta to be in default and accelerated the loans. Defendant then set off the deposit it made previously by reversing it. As a result, AIDG was unable to pay Plaintiffs for the work they had performed. Defendant, who was granted possession of the property, later foreclosed. Plaintiffs filed a complaint seeking to recover compensation for their work under the theory of unjust enrichment. The superior court granted summary judgment for Defendant. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that due to the absence of a relationship between Plaintiffs and Defendant and the lack of any allegation that Defendant engaged in any type of misconduct or fraud, Defendant’s retention of the property, including the improvements, was not inequitable under the Court’s jurisprudence on unjust enrichment. View "Emond Plumbing & Heating, Inc. v. BankNewport" on Justia Law