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RESOLUTION TRUST CORP. v. GALLAGHER

February 9, 1993

RESOLUTION TRUST CORPORATION, Plaintiff,
v.
FRANCIS X. GALLAGHER, VINCENT J. GAVIN, JOHN J. GILL, JOHN W. GILLULY, GORDON A. GROEBE, JOSEPH M. HEIDECKER, LAWRENCE KLINGER, LOUIS J. KOLE, GARY K. KUMMER, MATTHEW J. LAMB, H. RICHARD LANDIS, EDWARD A. LONG, and MILTON MEYERS, Defendants.


Kocoras


The opinion of the court was delivered by: CHARLES P. KOCORAS

CHARLES P. KOCORAS, District Judge:

 This matter is before the Court pursuant to plaintiff's request that the Court rule on the issue of whether damages in this case should be apportioned on a pro tanto or on a comparative fault basis. For the reasons set forth below, we determine that the comparative fault settlement bar rule should apply.

 BACKGROUND

 This action is being pursued by plaintiff, Resolution Trust Corporation ("RTC"), against the above-named defendants, who are the former directors and officers of Concordia Federal Bank of Savings ("Concordia") and its wholly owned subsidiary, Concor Financial Services, Inc. ("Concor"). RTC seeks recovery for the negligence, gross negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, and other wrongful and improper conduct allegedly committed by defendants in their positions as directors and officers of Concordia and Concor.

 The parties have submitted memoranda before the Court stating their positions on whether a settlement bar rule should be imposed in the present case and on the nature of the parties' preferred bar rule. Most of the named defendants, including John Gill, John Gilluly, Gordon A. Groebe, Lawrence Klinger, Louis J. Kole, Matthew J. Lamb, H. Richard Landis, Edward Long, advocate the Court's adoption of the comparative fault settlement bar rule. The RTC, in contrast, advances the pro tanto settlement bar rule.

 The purpose behind the Court issuing a ruling on the instant issue is to facilitate the parties' good faith settlement discussions. Although RTC now objects to the present resolution of the pro tanto versus comparative fault dispute on the basis of its contentions that no implied or federal common law right of contribution exists in this case, we find no basis for RTC's objections at the present time. Our resolution of the settlement bar rule is necessary regardless of whether the defendants have a right to seek contribution from one another, because the parties cannot evaluate the effect of individual settlements on RTC and the remaining nonsettling defendants until this Court has determined whether the pro tanto or comparative fault rule applies. We will discuss the two contended settlement bar rules below, but first the Court must address which law -- federal common law or state law -- to apply to the federal claims in this case.

 DISCUSSION

 I. Adoption of a Federal Common Law Settlement Bar Rule

 The parties do not dispute that a settlement bar rule of some kind will best advance the interests at stake and facilitate settlement negotiations. *fn1" What remains to be determined, however, is the form the said settlement bar rule should take.

 As stated by the Supreme Court in Kimbell Foods, in choosing between these two alternatives, the need for a nationally uniform body of law must be balanced against the advantages of utilizing the state statute. 440 U.S. at 728. Courts have generally found national uniformity of rules desirable in litigation involving RTC's counterpart, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation ("FDIC"). See McGinnis, slip op. at 29 ("Congress has left little doubt that uniformity of standards governing the regulation of banks and the federal bank insurance system is to be the rule, rather than the exception").

 The Nelson court identified three compelling reasons why a uniform national rule would be necessary in the context of a settlement bar rule, reasons that are applicable to the present RTC-initiated suit despite the fact that Nelson involved federal securities claims. Nelson, 662 F. Supp. at 1336-37. First, a settlement bar rule defines and limits the defendants' substantive rights, here, the right of contribution. Id.; see also Alvarado Partners, L.P. v. Mehta, 723 F. Supp. 540, 551 (D. Colo. 1989). Second, adoption of prevailing state settlement bar statutes would lead to widely disparate results, which in an area affecting substantive federal rights would be manifestly unfair and would thwart the overall federal regulatory scheme. Alvarado, 723 F. Supp. at 552; Nelson, 662 F. Supp. at 1337. Third, adoption of state settlement bar statutes would create numerous practical problems, including forum shopping and wasteful conflicts of law litigation generated to determine which state's settlement bar statute applies. Id.

 On the other hand, as contended by RTC, our adoption of the Illinois state statute *fn2" as the federal rule of decision avoids the potential practical difficulties in a case such as this where different settlement bar standards could apply to federal and pendent state claims. We held in a prior ruling that RTC could bring federal claims against Concordia's directors pursuit to 12 U.S.C. § 1821(k) and could bring Illinois common law claims against Concor. RTC contends, in light of this ruling, that the Court should adopt the Illinois settlement bar rule in creating a federal common law settlement bar rule in order to ...


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