Thursday, February 11, 2010

John Dubinsky v. Mermart

Feb 10: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit, Case No. 09-2072. John Dubinsky, et al (Subordinate Bondholders) invested in a refinancing venture for a real estate development. They sued the developer of the project, Mermart, L.L.C. (Mermart), alleging breach of contract and demanding equitable accounting for failure to pay interest under the financing documents, as well as alleging unjust enrichment, negligence, and fraudulent misrepresentation based on alleged representations that the project was free from environmental hazards. The district court dismissed the contract claims, finding that the Subordinate Bondholders failed to obtain written consent of UMB Bank, N.A. (UMB Bank), the Senior Mortgagee, as required by the financing documents. The district court also dismissed the negligence, unjust enrichment, and fraudulent misrepresentation claims because the economic loss doctrine precluded recovery. The Appeals Court affirmed the district court ruling.

    The Appeals Court said further, "We agree with the district court that the negligence claim is an enforcement action under the Subordination Agreement. Id. Similarly, we find that, like the negligence claim, the failure to make interest payments due to the characterization of the lead paint remediation as an "upgrade expense," is a matter that arises out of the Financing Documents. . . We affirm the dismissal of the negligence and unjust enrichment claims because the Subordinate Bondholders did not obtain written permission to sue. . .

    "Finally, the Subordinate Bondholders argue that Mermart made fraudulent misrepresentations pertaining to the absence of lead-based paint. Mermart counters that any such alleged statements are also covered solely by contractual duties. . . we find that the claimed fraudulent misrepresentation is also a matter that arises out of the Financing Documents. Again, we affirm the dismissal of this claim because the Subordinate Bondholders did not first obtain the written permission from the Senior Mortgagee to sue."

    Access the complete opinion (click here).