A federal judge in Michigan has put a damper on Stanford C. Stoddard's bid to get back into the banking business.
The judge last week threw out Mr. Stoddard's lawsuit alleging discrimination against the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. for denying deposit insurance to his proposed start-up bank.
U.S. District Judge John Corbett O'Meara found that he did not have proper jurisdiction to rule on Mr. Stoddard's claims against FDIC board members Ricki Helfer, Andrew Hove, and Eugene Ludwig; former board member Jonathan Fiechter; and Simona Frank, former director of the agency's Chicago regional office. In addition, the judge found without merit Mr. Stoddard's claims that the FDIC board and Ms. Frank discriminated against his would-be bank because of racial and religious considerations.
Judge O'Meara was not swayed by Mr. Stoddard's claim that his constitutional rights had been infringed upon.
"There simply is no evidence that the board's decision was based on constitutionally impermissible factors," he wrote in the Nov. 25 decision.
Neither Mr. Stoddard nor his lawyer could be reached for comment. Government and legal sources familiar with Mr. Stoddard's litigious history predicted he would likely appeal the decision.
FDIC officials were pleased with the decision.
"We think all the issues in the case were aired very thoroughly, " said Robert Garsson, communications director for the agency.
Mr. Stoddard resigned in disgrace as chief executive of Michigan National Corp., which his family had founded, in 1984. Subsequently, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency sought to ban him from banking after he was convicted of illegally profiting from a bank lease. The agency accused him, among other things, of diverting bank assets for his personal use. The conviction was reversed on appeal, and after a series of court battles Mr. Stoddard succeeded in staving off the OCC's attempts to fine and ban him.
In 1993, Mr. Stoddard began preparations to start a new bank, dubbed Bank of Michigan, in Bloomfield Hills, a tony suburb of Detroit. He received a state charter from the Michigan Financial Institutions Commission, but his application for deposit insurance was twice rejected by the FDIC. The federal agency cited Mr. Stoddard's past at Michigan National as the reason.
Mr. Stoddard and other Bank of Michigan organizers claimed the FDIC was waging a "personal vendetta" against him because of his court victory over the OCC. Citing FDIC board meeting transcripts he obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, he also charged that in evaluating the deposit insurance application board members had considered the fact he is a Mormon and two proposed directors of Bank of Michigan are African-American.