Eleventh Circuit Certifies Questions On Georgia Business Judgment Rule In Bank Officer Case, Declines To Apply “No Duty” Rule To Bar Affirmative Defenses


On December 23, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit certified questions to the Georgia Supreme Court regarding whether bank directors and officers can be subject to claims for ordinary negligence under the state banking code. FDIC v. Skow, No.12-15878, 2013 WL 6726918 (11th Cir. Dec. 23, 2013). In this case, former directors and officers of a failed Georgia bank moved to dismiss a suit brought against them by the FDIC as receiver for the failed bank, asserting that the state’s business judgment rule blocked the FDIC’s ordinary negligence allegations. Specifically, the FDIC claimed that the former directors and officers were negligent in pursuing an unsustainable growth strategy that included approving high risk loans that resulted in substantial losses and contributed to the bank’s failure. The appeals court explained that state law appears to provide that a bank director or officer who acts in good faith might still be subject to a claim for ordinary negligence if he failed to act with ordinary diligence. However, given that its reading of the state statute conflicts with state intermediate appellate court holdings, the Eleventh Circuit asked the Supreme Court of Georgia to determine (i) whether a bank director or officer violates the standard of care established by state statute when he acts in good faith but fails to act with “ordinary diligence;” and (ii) whether, in a case applying Georgia’s business judgment rule, the bank officer or director defendants can be held individually liable if they are shown to have been ordinarily negligent or to have breached a fiduciary duty, based on ordinary negligence in performing professional duties. The court also affirmed the district court’s denial of the FDIC’s motion to strike certain affirmative defenses, rejecting the FDIC’s argument that under federal common law it owes “no duty” to bank officers or directors and it therefore is exempt from defenses under state law.

Topics:  Affirmative Defenses, Banks, Business Judgment Rule, FDIC, Negligence

Published In: Business Organization Updates, Business Torts Updates, Civil Procedure Updates, Finance & Banking Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© BuckleySandler LLP | Attorney Advertising

Don't miss a thing! Build a custom news brief:

Read fresh new writing on compliance, cybersecurity, Dodd-Frank, whistleblowers, social media, hiring & firing, patent reform, the NLRB, Obamacare, the SEC…

…or whatever matters the most to you. Follow authors, firms, and topics on JD Supra.

Create your news brief now - it's free and easy »