Credit Suisse (CS) has won a small victory in a legal battle over its sale of mortgage-backed securities.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit on Monday agreed to hear an interim appeal by the bank, which contends that a trial judge erred when he certified the class of plaintiffs in the suit as anyone who invested in 26 separate groups of securities backed by residential loans that Credit Suisse underwrote in 2006.
In appealing the class certification, the Zurich-based company joins other financial firms that have sought to shrink the pool of potential plaintiffs in mortgage lawsuits. Goldman Sachs (GS) recently asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reject a mortgage class action against it by a pension fund after the 2nd Circuit, in New York, decided the fund could represent investors in connection with securities the fund itself did not purchase.
The appeal by Credit Suisse stems from a lawsuit filed against the company in April 2009 by Vaszurele Ltd., a holding company in the British Virgin Islands controlled by a single shareholder. In May 2006, the company purchased $200,000 in securities backed by loans from IndyMac Bank, a mortgage lender that was later seized by regulators, and underwritten by Credit Suisse.
In June, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granted a request by Vaszurele to certify a class composed of anyone who purchased the securities at issue — a ruling Credit Suisse charges overlooked a series of developments that may have put some investors on notice of the riskiness of their investment and the alleged wrongdoing.
"The…certificates were issued at a time during which there was significant press coverage of developments in the residential real estate market, and different information about the residential mortgage loan market, IndyMac's loan underwriting practices, and the certificates was available depending on the time at which a potential investors considered purchasing certificates," Credit Suisse wrote in its July 13 appeal.
The bank also contends the court erred by ruling that Credit Suisse had failed to provide sufficient evidence that investors had knowledge of misleading evidence in the offering documents that accompanied the securities. "In so doing, the district court erroneously conflated the standards for adjudicating ultimate liability with the standards for determining class certification," Credit Suisse added.
A spokesman for Credit Suisse declined to comment on Monday's ruling. An attorney for Vaszurele did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
Credit Suisse is facing a series of lawsuits that stem from its underwriting business in the run-up to the mortgage meltdown. In October, the National Credit Union Administration filed a lawsuit that charges the company with misleading three corporate credit unions about the riskiness of mortgages that backed securities Credit Suisse bundled and sold to them.
In November, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sued Credit Suisse for allegedly deceiving investors in mortgage-backed securities.