The Supreme Court has rejected three appeals involving financial services companies.
Of particular significance to national banks was the court's decision Monday not to hear Bank of America v. Marques. The case concerns a Hispanic woman, Virginia M. Marques, who was fired and then sued the bank under a California employment discrimination law.
After a state appeals court cleared the Marques suit for trial, Bank of America asked the California Supreme Court, and later the U.S. Supreme Court, to dismiss the claim, arguing that the National Bank Act gave it the right to dismiss officers "at its pleasure." Both courts rejected the request.
By declining to hear the case, the Supreme Court left unresolved the question of whether a national bank is subject to state employment discrimination laws.
"We're disappointed that the court declined to take up that case," said Michael F. Crotty, deputy general counsel for litigation at the American Bankers Association. The ABA and the California Bankers Association submitted a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of Bank of America.
"It leaves an important area of the law unsettled," he said. "There are other court decisions in other jurisdictions that come to an opposite result."
Bank of America spokesman Richard Beebe said the Marques case will go to trial in San Francisco in several weeks. "We're confident that we'll prevail," he said.
The justices also declined to hear an appeal by investors in the former Capital Corporate Federal Credit Union, which provided liquidity to other credit unions. It suffered substantial derivatives losses in 1994 and was subsequently seized by the National Credit Union Administration.
"We're pleased that it's finally over, and gratified by the Supreme Court's decision not to review the case," NCUA Chairman Norman E. D'Amours said.
The plaintiffs in the Cap Corp case-94 credit unions which lost a total of over $20 million-hoped the Supreme Court would overturn a lower court's decision dismissing their claim that NCUA illegally closed the institution.
In the third case, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. v. Speroni, the industry unsuccessfully urged the justices to overturn a decision allowing a consumer protection law in Illinois to cover customers who live outside the state.