Commercial Division Blog

Posted: December 6, 2019 / Categories Commercial, Statute of Limitations/Laches

Statue of Limitations for Action Brought by Trustee is Based on the Trustee's Residence

On November 25, 2019, Justice Fahey of the Court of Appeals issued a decision in Deutsche Bank Natl. Trust Co. v. Barclays Bank PLC, 2019 NY Slip Op. 08519, holding that the statute of limitations for an action brought by a trustee is based on the trustee's residence, explaining:

We reaffirm that a cause of action accrues at the time and in the place of the injury. Although courts may, in appropriate cases, conclude that an economic loss was sustained in a place other than where the plaintiff resides, we decline to apply the multi-factor analysis that plaintiff proposes.

We now turn to the issue of where the economic injury was sustained in this particular case. Our analysis is limited by the arguments the parties have raised.

All parties agreed below and continue to agree on this appeal that the residence of the certificateholders does not provide a workable basis for determining the place of economic injury, inasmuch as the certificateholders are geographically scattered. In light of that agreement, we do not consider whether the residence of the certificateholders is an appropriate basis for determining the place of economic injury here, or whether the residence of trust beneficiaries may be relevant to the place of economic injury in a different case. Furthermore, although the certificateholders may have suffered concrete economic injury due to defendants' alleged breaches, here plaintiff is suing solely in its capacity as the trustee on behalf of the trusts for alleged breach of contract, and the parties agree that certificateholders may have their own, separate claims. Plaintiff also does not argue that the location of the trust property should determine the place of economic injury.

For these reasons, we conclude that plaintiff's residence applies to determine the place of injury in this case. As trustee, plaintiff is authorized to enforce, on behalf of the certificateholders, the representations and warranties in the relevant agreements. Accordingly, it is appropriate for us to look to plaintiff's residence as the place where the economic injury was sustained and, consequently, where plaintiff's causes of action accrued for purposes of CPLR 202. Application of the plaintiff-residence rule here supports CPLR 202's goal of predictability and certainty of uniform application to litigants. That is especially true when we consider that these are representative actions commenced by a trustee for the benefit of numerous, geographically-dispersed beneficiaries.

Plaintiff is a resident of California. To satisfy CPLR 202, plaintiff's actions therefore must be timely under California's statute of limitations.

Schlam Stone & Dolan represents investors in RMBS actions against underwriters and trustees and in related proceedings, such as trust instruction proceedings where an RMBS trustee seeks court guidance regarding the management of an RMBS trust. If you or a client are RMBS investors and have questions regarding potential claims against a trustee or how to influence the trustee's prosecution of a put back action like the one at issue here, contact Schlam Stone & Dolan partner John Lundin at