New York Federal Court Denies Motion to Dismiss FHFA Mortgage-Backed Securities Case

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On May 4, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York denied, in large part, a motion to dismiss one of the many pending mortgage-backed securities (MBS) cases brought by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). Federal Housing Finance Agency v. UBS Americas, Inc., No. 11-5201, 2012 WL 1570856 (S.D.N.Y. May 4, 2012). The court’s decision allows FHFA’s federal securities action to proceed while dismissing related state law negligent misrepresentation claims. In July 2011, as conservator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the GSEs), FHFA initiated multiple lawsuits alleging that billions of dollars of MBS purchased by the GSEs were based on offering documents that “contained materially false statements and omissions.” Defendants in the instant case argued that these claims were time-barred. FHFA countered that the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA) controlled questions of timeliness, a point on which the court agreed in refusing to dismiss related federal claims. In this regard, the court concluded that a reasonably diligent plaintiff (here, the FHFA) could not have “discovered” the underlying federal claim within the year before the GSEs were placed into conservatorship. Rather, such a plaintiff could only have “discovered” this claim when the securities were “downgraded from investment grade to near-junk status,” which was less than a year before conservatorship.