FDIC Files Suit Against Former Haven Trust Directors and Officers

FDIC Files Suit Against Former Haven Trust Directors and Officers

On July 14, 2011, the FDIC filed a lawsuit in the Northern District of Georgia against 15 former directors and officers of Haven Trust Bank of Duluth, Georgia. This suit is the ninth the FDIC has filed as part of the current bank failure wave and the second that the FDIC has filed in Georgia. A copy of the FDIC's complaint can be found here. Scott Trubey's July 14, 2011 Atlanta Journal-Constitution article describing the lawsuit can be found here.  

Haven Trust was one of the earliest bank closures of the current wave when it failed on December 18, 2008. The bank's failure has already been the subject of extensive litigation. In late December 2008, the bank's investors filed a securities class action lawsuit against the former directors and officers of the bank. But as discussed here, on January 14, 2011, Northern District of Georgia Judge Charles A. Pannell, Jr. granted the defendants' motion to dismiss the securities suit.

The FDIC's suit filing against the Haven Trust officials may come as little surprise; indeed, as discussed here, the FDIC had previously sought to intervene in the investors' securities suit. Among other considerations the FDIC cited as part of its bid to intervene was the FDIC's own intention to assert claims against the individual defendants and the FDIC's concomitant "interest" in the bank's D&O insurance. On December 29, 2010, Judge Pannell denied the FDIC's motion to intervene, as discussed here. He specifically rejected the argument that the FDIC has a "legally protectable interest" in the D&O insurance, as a mere prospective claimant.

In its lawsuit, the FDIC accuses the former directors and officers of gross negligence and alleges that they breached other duties. The complaint specifically alleges improper lending practices and seeks to recover over $40 million. Among other things, the FDIC alleges that the bank suffered losses of over $7 million on improper loans to family members of two bank insiders.

While this lawsuit is only the second that the FDIC has filed against former directors and officers of a failed Georgia bank as part of the current round of bank failures, there undoubtedly will be many more to come. Georgia, with 65 bank failures since mid-2008, has had more bank failures than any other state during that period. The prior FDIC lawsuit involving a Georgia bank failure was the lawsuit filed in January 2011 against former directors and officers of Integrity Bank, about which refer here

Though the FDIC has so far filed only nine lawsuits against failed bank officials, many more lawsuits will be coming. According to the professional liability lawsuit page on the FDIC's website (which can be found here), the FDIC had as of July 7, 2011 authorized lawsuits against 248 individuals at 28 failed institutions. Even with the Haven Trust lawsuit, the FDIC has sued only 68 individuals in connection with nine failed institutions. Many more suits have been authorized, and it seems likely that even as the suits already authorized are filed, even more with be authorized in the months ahead.

Haven Trust was one of the first banks to fail back in late 2008, and the FDIC is just getting around to filling suit now. Since Haven Trust failed, well over 300 other banks have failed, and further bank failures seem likely. Given the lag time on the Haven Trust lawsuit, the FDIC lawsuits could continue to accumulate for at least another three years or more.

Read other items of interest from the world of directors & officers liability, with occasional commentary, at the D&O Diary, a blog by Kevin LaCroix.

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