The State of Play in City Claims against Financial Firms
Kathleen C. Engel
Suffolk University Law School
Fordham Urban Law Journal City Square, Forthcoming
Suffolk University Law School Research Paper No. 12-22
In 2006, before the subprime mortgage crisis and the collapse of the financial markets, I wrote an article, “Do Cities Have Standing? Redressing the Externalities of Predatory Lending.” In the article, I addressed the possibility that cities had standing to recover for the damage that predatory lenders were inflicting on their communities. At the time, exploitative lenders were putting unsophisticated borrowers in loans they could not afford, and many of those borrowers have since lost or will lose their homes.
Municipalities were in impossible positions. They were powerless to prevent abusive lending. Only states and federal legislatures and regulators had the authority to restrict unfair loan products; yet the cities bore the burden of unaffordable loans in the form of abandoned property, displaced families, increased demands for police and fire protection, and declining tax revenues.
Six years later, we now know more about the role of lenders in exploiting borrowers. We also know more about the impact that irrational and unfair lending has had on communities. And, most importantly for this essay, several cities have brought lawsuits that test some of the theories I put forth in my original article.
Jon Entin and Shadya Yazback wrote an article in response to “Do Cities Have Standing,” in which they echoed my analysis of city standing as parens patriae and as claimants for injuries to their proprietary interests. They also explored the potential for claims under the Fair Housing Act and discussed the role that preemption has played in limiting cities’ ability to directly regulate lenders. This essay is a follow-up to both my article and the Entin and Yazback piece.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 15Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: May 15, 2012 ; Last revised: October 24, 2012
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