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Federal Housing Finance v. Ubs Americas

June 19, 2012

FEDERAL HOUSING FINANCE AGENCY, ETC., PLAINTIFF,
v.
UBS AMERICAS, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Denise Cote, District Judge:

OPINION & ORDER

This is one of sixteen actions pending before this Court that have been brought by the Federal Housing Finance Agency ("FHFA" or "the Agency"), as conservator of the Federal National Mortgage Association ("Fannie Mae") and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation ("Freddie Mac") (collectively, the "Government Sponsored Enterprises" or "GSEs"), against various financial institutions involved in the packaging, marketing and sale of residential mortgage-backed securities that the GSEs purchased in the period from 2005 to 2007.*fn1 An Opinion and Order of May 4 granted in part defendants' January 20 motion to dismiss the Second Amended Complaint. See Federal Housing Finance Agency v. UBS Americas, Inc., ___ F. Supp. 2d ___, No. 11 Civ. 5201 (DLC), 2012 WL 1570856 (S.D.N.Y. May 4, 2012) (the "May 4 Opinion").

This Opinion addresses the UBS defendants' May 23 motion to certify an interlocutory appeal from that portion of the May 4 Opinion that denied their motion to dismiss as untimely FHFA's claims under Sections 11, 12(a)(2), and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933, 15 U.S.C. §§ 77k, l(a)(2), o. The Court ordered that the motion be briefed on an expedited schedule, and it became fully submitted on June 8, 2012.

In the interim, document discovery has begun in all sixteen cases. Pursuant to an Order of June 14, fact and expert discovery in this case must be complete no later than June 14, 2013. Any summary judgment motion must be fully submitted by August 30, 2013. Trial is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. on January 13, 2014. At a scheduling conference on June 13, 2012, the defendants agreed that, if this Court granted their motion for certification, they would seek expedited review in the Court of Appeals.

Defendants seek interlocutory review of two specific conclusions in the Court's May 4 Opinion: (1) that the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 ("HERA") prescribes comprehensive time limitations for any claim the FHFA may bring as conservator for the GSEs, including a claim to which a statute of repose generally attaches; and (2) that HERA's timeliness provision applies equally to federal and state causes of action. For the purposes of certification, these conclusions are closely intertwined. If interlocutory review is granted, the Court of Appeals will address the specific question of whether the May 4 Opinion correctly analyzed HERA's impact on plaintiff's Securities Act claims. HERA's applicability to federal claims will necessarily be entailed in that analysis. Thus, while defendants' motion for certification raises two distinct legal issues, they reduce to a single question for appeal: whether the May 4 Opinion erred in concluding that HERA displaces the statute of repose that generally governs claims under the Securities Act. The Court therefore addresses its analysis of the Section 1292(b) factors to that single question, recognizing that "it is the order that is appealable, and not the controlling question identified by the district court" or the parties. California Public Employees' Retirement System v. Worldcom, Inc., 368 F.3d 86, 95 (2d Cir. 2004) (citation omitted).

Having considered those factors, the Court concludes, for the reasons that follow, that defendants have carried their burden of demonstrating that an interlocutory appeal should be certified. The motion is therefore granted on the condition that defendants seek expedited review in the Court of Appeals.

DISCUSSION

The standard for certification is well established. Section 1292(b) provides, in relevant part, that

[w]hen a district judge, in making in a civil action an order not otherwise appealable under this section, shall be of the opinion that such order involves a controlling question of law as to which there is substantial ground for difference of opinion and that an immediate appeal from the order may materially advance the ultimate termination of the litigation, he shall so state in writing in such order. The Court of Appeals which would have jurisdiction of an appeal of such action may thereupon, in its discretion, permit an appeal to be taken from such order, if application is made to it within ten days after the entry of the order.

28 U.S.C. § 1292(b) (emphasis supplied); see Casey v. Long Island R. Co., 406 F.3d 142, 146 (2d Cir. 2005) (noting that Section 1292(b) "imposes both procedural and substantive requirements on a would-be appellant").

The Court of Appeals has emphasized that Section 1292(b) certification should be "strictly limited because only exceptional circumstances will justify a departure from the basic policy of postponing appellate review until after the entry of a final judgment." Flor v. BOT Fin. Corp., 79 F.3d 281, 284 (2d Cir. 1996) (citation omitted). Certification is thus appropriate only in the narrow class of cases in which "an intermediate appeal may avoid protracted litigation." Koehler v. Bank of Bermuda Ltd., 101 F.3d 863, 866 (2d Cir. 1996). In considering whether to enact Section 1292(b), the House Committee on the Judiciary specifically identified as falling into that category cases such as this one, in which "a long trial is envisioned to determine liability over a defense disputing the right to maintain the action." Id.

1. Controlling Question of Law

The Second Circuit has recognized that "resolution of an

issue need not necessarily terminate an action in order to be 'controlling,'" for the purposes of Section 1292(b). Klinghoffer v. S.N.C. Achille Lauro, et al., 921 F.2d 21, 24 (2d Cir. 1990). Rather, it is enough to satisfy the statute's first prong that the issue is one "that may importantly affect the conduct of [the] action." In re The Duplan Corp., 591 F.2d 139, 148 n.11 (2d Cir. 1978); accord In re Worldcom, Inc. Sec. Litig., No. 02 Civ. 3288 (DLC), 2003 WL 22953644, at *4 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 16, 2003). Moreover, timeliness determinations, which go directly to the plaintiff's ability to ...


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