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United States ex rel. Schneider v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, National Association

United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit

December 22, 2017

United States of America, ex rel. Laurence Schneider, et al., and Laurence Schneider, Appellant
v.
JPMorgan Chase Bank, National Association, et al., Appellees

          Argued November 13, 2017

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (No. 1:14-cv-01047)

          Joseph A. Black argued the cause for appellant. With him on the briefs were Daniel E. Cohen and Robert L. Di Marco.

          Adam C. Jed, Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, argued the cause as amicus curiae United States supporting neither party. With him on the brief was Michael S. Raab, Attorney. R. Craig Lawrence, Assistant U.S. Attorney, entered an appearance.

          Robert D. Wick argued the cause and filed the brief for appellees.

          Michael M. Maya entered an appearance.

          Before: Tatel and Kavanaugh, Circuit Judges, and Silberman, Senior Circuit Judge.

          OPINION

          SILBERMAN, SENIOR CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         Appellant Laurence Schneider - also called a Relator - brought a qui tam suit under the False Claims Act against JPMorgan Chase, alleging that Chase falsely claimed compliance with a Settlement it, and a number of other large banks, reached with the United States and state governments. The Settlement - and it is a massive one, costing Chase alone $1.1 billion of cash and over $4.2 billion of in-kind aid to consumers - resolved claims against the banks for alleged malfeasance in the origination and servicing of residential mortgages that were thought to contribute to the housing crash and subsequent financial crisis of 2008. It also contained detailed dispute resolution procedures and designated a Monitor to certify compliance with its terms. The district court approved the Settlement in 2012. Subsequently, the Monitor did certify that Chase had complied with the Settlement.

         Appellant also alleged that Chase falsely claimed compliance with the Home Affordable Modification Program ("HAMP") administered by the Treasury Department.

         Schneider challenges the district court's dismissal of his claims under the Settlement. The court concluded that he was required to exhaust his contentions pursuant to the procedures of the Settlement. He also disputes the district court's dismissal of his HAMP claims, even though it was without prejudice; the district court thought his claim was defective because he did not allege that Chase committed material violations of the rules of the program, as would be necessary to make Chase's certification of compliance false.

         We disagree with the district court's exhaustion conclusion, but we affirm its dismissal of the claims regarding the Settlement on a related basis. And we agree with the court's analysis of Appellant's HAMP claim.

         I.

         The National Mortgage Settlement - which was negotiated in 2012 between a group of mortgage lenders and the federal government, the governments of forty-nine states, and the District of Columbia - released the lenders from liability for their past use of inappropriate practices with respect to the origination, servicing, and foreclosure of residential mortgages. In exchange for the release, the lenders agreed ...


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