Andrew Rubin, Esq.

Breach of contract claims, shareholder suits in civil litigation

A lawsuit lodged by shareholders against the directors and officers of Bank of NY Mellon Corp was recently dismissed. The allegations involved claims that bank executives neglected their responsibilities with regard to overcharging customers on currency trades. The decision was announced on July 3 by a U.S. District Judge. Civil litigation claims like this in New Jersey and elsewhere tend to involve breach of contract claims, and other violations, along with legal and factual reasoning to support such claims.

In his decision to dismiss the matter, the District Judge stated that the shareholders' lawsuit did not include allegations to the effect that the executives' were ever aware the bank was involved in illegal actions. He also stated that the claims did not create a sufficient level of doubt that the executives' inaction was unreasonable. Shareholders had claimed that the executives were to blame for the bank suffering a liability of approximately a $2 billion and caused other damages to the bank's reputation, stock value, credit rating and profitability.

Plaintiff lawyers in this Manhattan case did not provide an immediate response to the matter. Between the years 2000 and 2011, numerous civil litigation claims have arisen alleging that Bank of NY Mellon profited illegally by cheating pension fund clients and other bank customers. The claims have alleged that the bank instituted a scheme to finalize currency transactions at the lowest daily trading price, illegally creating profits for the bank while harming its customers.

The shareholders' strategy was to hold executives of the bank responsible for this alleged malfeasance and force them to pay back shareholders for the damage caused. Although the factual and legal arguments to support such claims will differ, nearly all civil litigation claims such as this one, in New Jersey and elsewhere, will incorporate claims of breach of contract, fraud and/or negligence. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of counsel for the plaintiff and defense to put forward the most watertight case possible in order to convince the judge to make a favorable decision in the matter.

Source: Fox Business, "Judge dismisses lawsuit against Bank of NY Mellon executives," Jonathan Stempel, July 3, 2013

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