Courts denies BofA move to consolidate monoline insurer lawsuits
Bank of America (BAC), the banking giant that acquired subprime lender Countrywide Financial Corp. in 2008, lost a motion in a New York court Monday to consolidate four complaints filed against the bank by different monoline insurers into one action. The most well-known case involves bond insurer MBIA, which sued Bank of America as a successor to Countrywide. In the suit, MBIA claims BofA, as the acquirer of Countrywide, is liable for misrepresentations that Countrywide made on residential mortgages that were later insured by MBIA as the mortgages moved through the securitization process. The insurer's case is similar to lawsuits filed against Countrywide (BofA) by three other monoline insurers: Syncora Guarantee, Financial Guaranty Insurance and Ambac Insurance. Bank of America moved to have the cases consolidated into one suit since the complaints involve similar allegations and require much of the same discovery materials and document requests. The court denied the motion for consolidation on the grounds that the cases are still in the discovery phase and MBIA is much further along in the process. The court held that "consolidation of successor liability claims at this point in the monoline actions' timeline will not prevent undue delay" for Bank of America. However, it would "stand to prejudice the monoline action plaintiffs," the court wrote in its opinion. On the issue of whether the cases should be consolidated into one action at trial, Justice Eileen Bransten wrote "while it appears the facts suggest enough cohesiveness to warrant one trial, ultimately that issue is best decided at the time for trial." MBIA, which is further along in its discovery initiatives, lauded the decision Monday. Company spokesman Kevin Brown said, "we are pleased that MBIA’s successor liability claims against Bank of America for Countrywide’s fraud and breach of contract will be permitted to continue without further delay.” Write to Kerri Panchuk.