February 12, 2008

Are Federal Credit Unions Immune from Punitive Damages Claims?

A few months ago, in McGee v. Tucoemas Federal Credit Union, the California Court of Appeal held federal credit unions were not entitled to sovereign immunity from punitive damages claims.

As counsel of record for the defendant, we (Horvitz & Levy LLP) are filing today a cert petition to the US Supreme Court challenging this holding. Here's a summary from the petition outlining the question presented:

"Federal credit unions are federal instrumentalities chartered under the Federal Credit Union Act, 12 U.S.C. §§ 1751 to 1795k. Does their authority under that Act to 'sue and be sued,' 12 U.S.C. § 1757(2), waive their immunity as federal instrumentalities from punitive damage claims? The decision of the Court of Appeal of the State of California, which allowed the punitive damage claims here, declined to follow decisions of the Sixth, Eighth, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuits of the United States Court of Appeals."

Stay tuned!