Federal District Court Holds Federal Law Preempts Massachusetts’ Statutory Limits On Mortgage Insurance

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On September 21, the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts held that the Federal Homeowners Loan Act preempted a Massachusetts law that forbids lenders from requiring borrowers to purchase insurance greater than the replacement cost of the building on the mortgaged property. Silverstein v. ING Bank, fsb, No. 12-10015, 2012 WL 4340587 (D. Mass. Sep. 21, 2012). A borrower brought a putative class action in state court alleging that the bank’s requirement that borrowers purchase insurance equal to the outstanding principal balance on the mortgage violated the state’s limit on mortgage insurance. The bank removed the case to federal court and subsequently moved to dismiss while the borrower moved to remand the case. In denying the motion to remand and granting the bank’s motion to dismiss, the court held that the Massachusetts statute limiting mortgage insurance to the replacement cost of the building falls plainly within the illustrative list of preempted state laws provided by the Homeowners Loan Act’s implementing regulations. The court conceded that the borrower could bring common law claims against the bank, but held that the borrower’s attempt to label his clear statutory claims as common law claims failed