NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. Bancorp (>> U.S. Bancorp) and Bank of America Corp (>> Bank of America Corp) won a dismissal of claims in lawsuits accusing them of breaching their duties as trustees for residential mortgage-backed securities that suffered losses tied to the global financial crisis.
The dismissals came in three decisions late Monday by U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest in Manhattan.
In the first, Forrest rejected an attempt by funds from BlackRock Inc (>> BlackRock, Inc.), Allianz SE's (>> Allianz SE) Pacific Investment Management Co and TIAA-CREF to hold US Bancorp liable for alleged defects in 843 RMBS trusts collateralized by $778.6 billion of loans, causing tens of billions of dollars of losses.
The judge said the funds pleaded their claims incorrectly as to 33 trusts, and said she lacked jurisdiction over the other 810 trusts in light of a December ruling by the federal appeals court in Manhattan concerning Bank of New York Mellon Corp (>> Bank of New York Mellon Corp).
Separately, Forrest said the National Credit Union Administration lacked standing to sue US Bancorp and Bank of America over 74 RMBS trusts from which five corporate credit unions that later failed had bought certificates, because the certificates had been re-securitized.
In the third case, Forrest dismissed claims by several Ireland- and Cayman Islands-based entities against US Bancorp and Bank of America, also saying the plaintiffs lacked standing.
The judge gave all plaintiffs a chance to amend their complaints.
Blair Nicholas, a lawyer for the BlackRock, Pimco and TIAA-CREF plaintiffs, declined to comment. A lawyer for the NCUA and foreign plaintiffs did not immediately respond to requests for comment. US Bancorp spokesman Dana Ripley and Bank of America spokesman Lawrence Grayson declined to comment.
Bond issuers appoint trustees to ensure that payments are funneled to investors, as well as to handle much of the back-office work after securities are sold.
Trustees have in recent years become a growing target for investors seeking to recoup losses on shoddy mortgages. They accuse the trustees of breaching their duties by failing to force lenders and bond issuers to buy back troubled loans.
Investors have had mixed success suing trustees. Bank of America and US Bancorp last November agreed to pay $69 million to settle a lawsuit over their role as trustees for RMBS backed by loans from the failed Washington Mutual Inc.
The cases in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, are BlackRock Allocation Target Shares: Series S Portfolio et al v. US Bank NA, No. 14-09401; National Credit Union Administration Board v. US Bank NA et al, No. 14-09928; and Phoenix Light SF Ltd et al v. US Bank NA et al, No. 14-10116.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler)
By Jonathan Stempel