Godfrey & Kahn represents banks and other financial institutions nationwide in high-stakes litigation, including defense of multi-million and multi-billion dollar claims.
We understand that the outcome of litigation targeting financial institutions can be vital to our client’s reputation and future. We are uniquely positioned with an interdisciplinary team of litigation attorneys that works closely with our banking, investment management, white collar & internal investigations, and bankruptcy groups. Together, our substantive knowledge provides clients the highest-quality representation in an efficient manner, whether defending litigation or developing risk mitigation strategies.
We also possess a deep knowledge of the various financial products, practices and businesses that make up the financial services industry.
Claims Based on Intentional Wrongdoing.
Plaintiffs victimized by a bank customer often look to the bank for relief rather than the true wrongdoer, which may be insolvent, facing criminal charge, or no longer accessible. We have vast experience defending financial institutions targeted solely because money flowed through their customer’s account, including claims involving fraud, Ponzi schemes, theft, and other intentional wrongdoing. Recent representative matters include:
- Conducted internal investigation and currently representing large financial institution in federal litigation arising as a result of banking relationship with customer convicted of operating a multibillion dollar ponzi scheme. Successfully avoided criminal charges and other enforcement action against bank, and assisted in securing dismissal of several lawsuits, and avoiding others, related to claims by victims of ponzi scheme.
- Defense of claims arising from bank’s borrower perpetrating fraud (theft of loan proceeds) in conjunction with residential loan closings. Claims alleging the existence of a fiduciary escrow account, aiding and abetting fraud and theft.
- Conducted an internal investigation regarding loan fraud perpetrated by thirdparty loan brokers and escrow company employees. Successfully pursued multiple avenues of recovery on behalf of the victim bank, including indemnification demands under the brokerage agreement that led to multiple settlements without litigation, pursuit of a criminal restitution award, and litigation against entities that employed one of the coconspirators central to the fraudulent loan closings. Efforts in total resulted in a net recovery to the bank in excess of $3 million, plus restitution payments from defendants criminally convicted of the real estate fraud scheme.
- Defense of claims against bank arising from access to trust funds by the power of attorney to an elderly bank customer, with the power of attorney found guilty of criminal embezzlement, including interfacing with law enforcement.
Employee Departure, Broker Dealer & Securities Litigation
We handle industry claims, including regular enforcement of non-solicitation and confidentiality agreements, raiding claims, data theft claims, and expungements, as well as defense of customer claims. We defend and prosecute financial advisor departure claims on a nationwide basis and handle an array of securities litigation matters, including public company M&A class actions, breach of fiduciary duty, derivative claims, white collar criminal defense, and securities fraud. We also defend SEC and FINRA investigations and enforcement actions, and have negotiated FINRA Acceptance, Wavier and Consent agreements and SEC Consent Orders.
- Obtained a $1,537,500 award, including $512,500 in punitive damages, in favor of BMO against a former advisor and his new employer where the former employee breached his nonsolicit and confidentiality agreements and Wintrust was liable for inducing the breach. The damages award was preceded by obtaining both a temporary restraining order and injunction.
- Represented nationwide mortgage lender in pursuit of a temporary restraining order against former employees and their new employer. We sought return of multiple computer drives worth of stolen customer data, as well as enforcement of restrictive covenants. Evidence of data theft and wrongdoing drove resolution. Matter involved gaining access to certain databases required to conduct its business controlled by defendants, other data recovery, and data breach analysis.
- Customer alleges former agent is liable for churning, recommending unsuitable transactions, making fraudulent representations, and breaching fiduciary duties. Defense of claims for failure to supervise agent and vicarious liability stemming from life insurance policies and variable annuities.
We represent financial services clients in a wide array of putative class action claims, including fraud claims, ERISA claims, shareholder suits, debit card transaction claims, interest calculation claims and breach of fiduciary duty claims.
- Obtained dismissal on behalf of a bank client in a purported class action based on claims of usurious interest rate charges that included state and federal claims.
- Obtained dismissal of a purported class action 365/360 interest suit in which the former borrowers challenged the bank’s calculation of interest on commercial loans. The state court decision granting our motion to dismiss contained the one most detailed analyses of the particular loan interest provision at issue of any court nationwide and included multiple grounds in support of the favorable decision.
- Defended bank in a class action challenging the bank’s practices for sequencing daily debit card transactions for the purpose of calculating overdraft fees, including federal court appeal.
Commercial Borrower Litigation
Changes in the real estate market can spur foreclosures and suits related to a bank’s disbursement or withholding of construction loan proceeds. Defending and pursuing these claims efficiently is particularly key, as the focus is often asset recovery and loss mitigation, as well as avoiding liability for circumstances leading to a borrower’s default.
- Defense verdict in favor of bank client following a federal court trial, involving claims by a commercial borrower plaintiff based on alleged contract for loan repayment terms mooted by loan sale.
- Summary judgment and award of attorney’s fees to our bank client in suit involving claims of improper disbursement of loan proceeds by a commercial contractor, with proceedings in the trial court and on appeal.
- Prevailed in trial court acting filed on behalf of a bank client to secure the bank’s right to its debtor’s assets, including specifically proceeds from a settlement obtained by the debtor that were also claimed by the debtor’s business partner.
- Assertion of claims for commercial mortgage foreclosure, enforcement of guarantees, appointment of receiver, and defense of lender liability counterclaims. Judgment following dispositive motions affirmed on appeal.
Consumer claims: FDCPA, FCRA, Wisconsin Consumer Act, residential borrower (including TILA, HOEPA, RESPA)
We regularly defend a wide array of consumer claims under federal, state and common laws, including claims under the Truth-in-Lending Act (TILA), Home Owners Equity Protection Act (HOEPA), Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), Fair Housing Act (FHA), Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), as well as claims for violation of other state and federal consumer statutes, predatory lending, consumer fraud, false advertising, usury violations, and loan servicing and unfair deceptive trade practices.