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United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
August 21, 2015, Decided
[*37] HOWARD, Chief Judge. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. (hereinafter, "Chase") initiated this mandamus proceeding, asking the court to intervene in what essentially is a discovery dispute. Before the district court, Chase unsuccessfully argued that fifty-five pages of Chase records were shielded from production or use in the underlying putative class action per a provision of the Bank Secrecy Act, 31 U.S.C. § 5318(g) (hereinafter, "the Act"), and related regulations. As explained below, there are significant reasons to doubt that the Act and related regulations apply at all to the unique facts of this case. Moreover, even assuming that the Act and regulations apply and that the protections emanating therefrom extend as far as Chase suggests, the documents disputed here would not be shielded from discovery or use in litigation. Accordingly, [**2] Chase has not demonstrated a clear entitlement to the relief it seeks, and the petition for writ of mandamus will be denied.
An abbreviated version of the relevant facts will suffice for current purposes. Through a convoluted course of events that need not be described here, counsel for the name plaintiffs in the underlying putative class action obtained a sizable collection of Chase records from the receiver. Counsel and the name plaintiffs wished to rely on the documents in order to pursue various claims sounding in fraud, deceit, and conversion against Chase. The name plaintiffs alleged that a customer had used his accounts with Chase and a predecessor bank acquired by Chase to operate a Ponzi scheme that the banks had failed to detect and stop. A dispute arose as to whether [*38] portions of the Chase records were shielded from discovery and litigation use under the Act and related regulations. The Director of the Litigation Division for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency ("OCC") and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network ("FinCEN") were notified of the dispute as required by 12 C.F.R. § 21.11(k)(1)(i). The OCC declined to intervene in the matter and expressed support for the district court's plan [**3] to conduct in camera review of the disputed documents. Both agencies declined to review the specific documents disputed in this case. The OCC eventually did file an amicus brief in the district court, offering a general overview of relevant legal principles but making clear that the documents at issue in this case had not been reviewed.
After much legal wrangling, a magistrate judge adjudicating the action by consent ultimately reviewed all the disputed documents in camera and concluded that the vast majority of the documents were not shielded by statute or regulation, leaving the name plaintiffs free to rely upon all but a small sliver of the Chase records in counsel's possession. The district court rejected Chase's request that the ruling be certified for review via interlocutory appeal. Chase then initiated this mandamus proceeding, asking the court to intervene by declaring that the Act and related regulations shield an additional fifty-five pages of records from evidentiary or other use in the putative class action.1 Seizing upon language from prior cases, Chase characterizes those fifty-five pages as "Evaluative Documents" and claims that the documents are protected because they [**4] were prepared for purposes of determining Chase's obligations under the Act and related regulations to report certain transactions to FinCEN. This court has conducted de novo review of those fifty-five pages in camera.
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799 F.3d 36 *; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 14721 **
IN RE: JPMORGAN CHASE BANK, N.A., Petitioner.
Prior History: [**1] ON PETITION FOR EXTRAORDINARY WRIT TO THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS. Hon. Judith G. Dein, U.S. Magistrate Judge.
documents, regulations, disclosure, mandamus, financial institution, related regulation, district court, transactions, confidentiality, shielded, suspicious activity, discovery, parties, records, cases, limitations, fifty-five, disclose, purposes, pages, in camera, communications, applicability, universe
Civil Procedure, Writs, Common Law Writs, Mandamus, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Allocation, Discovery, Privileged Communications, Attorney-Client Privilege, Banking Law, Criminal Offenses, Money Laundering, Bank Secrecy Act, Bank Accounts, Anti-Money Laundering & Bank Secrecy, Suspicious Activity Reports (SAR), General Overview, Governments, Legislation, Interpretation, Administrative Law, Separation of Powers, Legislative Controls, Scope of Delegated Authority