Eighth Circuit Holds DIDMCA Does Not Preempt State Law Limits on Closing Costs and Fees
On August 7, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit held that the Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act (DIDMCA) does not preempt a Missouri state law governing the types and amounts of closing costs and fees a lender may charge on second-lien residential mortgage loans. Thomas v. US Bank National Ass’n, No. 08-3302, 2009 WL 2410577 (8th Cir. Aug. 7, 2009). This case involved allegations that certain fees and costs paid in connection with mortgage loans—but not the interest rate of the loans—violated Missouri law. The 33 defendant banks—purchasers of the subject loans from federally-insured, state-chartered (and now-defunct) FirstPlus Bank – argued that DIDMCA, similar to the National Bank Act (NBA), completely preempted any state law usury claim against a national bank. The Eighth Circuit rejected the defendants’ argument. The court found that a qualifying phrase in the relevant section of DIDMCA was intended to limit its preemptive effect to conflicting state laws capping interest rates. Specifically, the court reasoned that because the interest rate allowed by Missouri law for second mortgages was higher than the interest rate set forth in DIDMCA, the federal statute did not apply. The court noted that its decision conflicts with the Fourth Circuit’s decision in Discover Bank v. Vaden, 489 F.3d 594 (4th Cir. 2007), which held that DIDMCA completely preempts state usury claims against federally-insured, state-chartered banks. The defendant national banks argued in the alternative that the NBA itself applied (and preempted state law), but the court also rejected this argument, holding that, as assignees, the defendant banks were subject to all claims that could have been brought against the originating institution.