Top Plaintiffs' Verdicts by Dollar/Top Plaintiff's Verdicts by Impact — FDIC as Receiver for IndyMac Bank v. Van Dellen
FDIC as Receiver for IndyMac Bank v. Van Dellen was profiled by the Daily Journal as the Top Plaintiffs' Verdict by Impact for 2012 and was named the second largest Plaintiffs' Verdict by Dollar for 2012. This was the only case to earn a place on both lists. A Nossaman team led by Partners David Graeler, Tom Long, and Patrick Richard represented the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in the first major trial against bank officers over the real estate crisis.
The article stated that the key to achieving the verdict of more than $168 million was to make a very complicated case simple. David Graeler is quoted as saying, "It was one big puzzle with lots of pieces that had to fit together." Mr. Graeler mentioned that Nossaman's team spent 18 months investigating IndyMac's lending, including going through millions of documents and eventually producing a complaint that was 309 pages long and covered 66 loans. The article pointed out that after 18 months of litigation and five weeks of trial, the jury came back with its verdict in about four hours.
Patrick Richard said that the Nossaman attorneys appealed to the jurors' common sense. "It was common sense that these loans should not have been made," he said.
The trial involved 23 different loans. "How do you present evidence on 23 different loans, each with distinct facts?" Mr. Graeler said. "That's hard." Part of the argument involved evidence that IndyMac rewarded the bankers with bonuses for making loans. "The evidence that they had taken unacceptable risks for a buck was powerful," said Mr. Richard.
Mr. Graeler stated that the Nossaman team knocked out all of the IndyMac officers' affirmative defenses in motions and blocked the argument that the defendants' decisions were protected by the business judgment rule. That meant they had to prove only that the defendants committed ordinary negligence in making the loans, rather than meeting the much tougher standard of gross negligence, he said.
Mr. Richard said that a theme in the trial was that "most Americans don't want bankers taking the same risks as venture capitalists."
The article stated that there is little question the verdict, the second largest in California in 2012, has had an impact.