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VALENTE v. DENNIS

August 3, 1977

DAVID A. VALENTE, JOSEPHINE M. VALENTE and BRUCE D. EMIG, Plaintiffs
v.
JOHN W. DENNIS, MORTON R. LEVY, RAYMOND G. PERELMAN, RONALD O. PERELMAN, HOWARD W. SEIPLE, ROBERT W. MOORE, THEODORE LIGHTCAP, STANLEY F. HAHN, IRVING W. COLEMAN, JACK B. MAY, WARRAN B. PATTIZ, JOAN R. PATTIZ, CLARKE E. SECHLER, BERNARD BERGMAN, WILLIAM BRANDEIS, HOWARD O. JONES, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BRODERICK

 BRODERICK, J.

 Plaintiffs herein are shareholders of Municipal Leasing Systems (MLS), a Pennsylvania corporation. *fn1" Each of the defendants is, or has been at allegedly relevant times, a member of the Board of Directors of the Northampton National Bank of Easton (Bank). During the period in question, MLS was a customer and borrower of the Bank. The complaint alleges that various acts of mismanagement and violations of the federal banking laws and state laws by the Bank resulted in substantial losses to plaintiffs.

 Defendants have moved to dismiss, pursuant to both Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1), for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. *fn2" In connection with 12(b) motions, the Third Circuit has recently stated:

 
The basic difference among the various 12(b) motions is, of course, that 12(b)(6) alone necessitates a ruling on the merits of the claim, the others deal with procedural defects. Because 12(b)(6) results in a determination on the merits at an early stage of plaintiff's case, the plaintiff is afforded the safeguard of having all its allegations taken as true and all inferences favorable to plaintiff will be drawn. The decision disposing the case is then purely on the legal sufficiency of plaintiff's case: even were plaintiff to prove all its allegations, he or she would be unable to prevail. In the interests of judicial economy it is not improper to dispose of the claim at that stage. . ..

 Mortensen v. First Federal Savings and Loan Ass'n, 549 F.2d 884, 891 (3d Cir. 1977) (footnote omitted).

 The Supreme Court also has recently dealt with the distinction between motions to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. In Hagans v. Lavine, 415 U.S. 528, 542, 39 L. Ed. 2d 577, 94 S. Ct. 1372 (1974), the Court stated:

 
Jurisdiction . . . is not defeated . . . by the possibility that the averments might fail to state a cause of action on which petitioners could actually recover. For it is well settled that the failure to state a proper cause of action calls for a judgment on the merits and not for a dismissal for want of jurisdiction. Whether the complaint states a cause of action on which relief could be granted is a question of law and just as issues of fact it must be decided after and not before the court has assumed jurisdiction over the controversy. *fn3"

 See C. Wright, Law of Federal Courts 72 (3d ed. 1976).

 Since plaintiffs' claims arise under the federal banking laws, this Court has subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to either 28 U.S.C. § 1331 or § 1337. *fn4" Therefore, defendant's motion to dismiss, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) will be denied. The question remains, however, whether plaintiffs have stated a cause of action under the federal statutes which they have pleaded.

 In 1974, MLS brought suit in this court against the Bank alleging misappropriation of plaintiffs' funds. Jurisdiction was alleged pursuant to "the Laws of the United States, Title 12, Banks and Banking, various sections, and regulations of the Federal Reserve Board thereunder, and rules and regulations of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and Treasury Regulations." The complaint was dismissed without prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction by my learned colleague, Judge VanArtsdalen.

 MLS filed a second complaint, once again naming the Bank as defendant, alleging jurisdiction pursuant to 12 U.S.C. §§ 71a, 84 and 86. In Municipal Leasing Systems, Inc. v. Northampton National Bank, 382 F. Supp. 968 (E.D. Pa. 1974), Judge VanArtsdalen dismissed this complaint on the ground that no claim upon which relief could be granted had been stated under 12 U.S.C. §§ 71a, 84 or 86.

 In the present action, the third complaint filed in this court concerning this matter, plaintiffs are the shareholders of MLS while defendants are the directors of the Bank. Sections 71a and 84 of Title 12 are again pleaded together with other sections of Title 12 as creating a federal cause of action. 12 U.S.C. § 84, simply stated, prohibits national banks from making loans to one customer in excess of ten percent of the bank's total assets. Plaintiffs allege that the Bank violated this provision in making excessive loans to MLS and, apparently, that these excessive loans were too large for the bank to manage properly and that the consequent mismanagement resulted in damage to plaintiff. In Municipal Leasing Systems, Inc. v. Northampton National Bank, supra at 971, the court stated that "[if] a national bank exceeds its lending capacity, no private cause of action is afforded to a private borrower," citing Union Gold-Mining Co. v. Rocky Mountain National Bank, 96 U.S. 640, 24 L. Ed. 648 (1878). It follows, then, that the same rule should apply to the shareholders of the borrower. Since the decision in Municipal Leasing Systems, the Supreme Court in Cort v. Ash, 422 U.S. 66, 45 L. Ed. 2d 26, 95 S. Ct. 2080 (1975), promulgated a four-part test to be applied where implication of a private cause of action is sought: (1) whether plaintiffs are part of "the class for whose especial benefit the statute was ...


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