Langley v. FDIC,
484 U.S. 86 (1987)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Langley v. FDIC, 484 U.S. 86 (1987)

Langley v. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

No. 86-489

Argued October 14, 1987

Decided December 1, 1987

487 U.S. 86


To finance the purchase of land in Louisiana, petitioners borrowed money from a bank insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and, in consideration for the loan, executed a note, a collateral mortgage, and personal guarantees. When petitioners failed to pay an installment due on a renewal of the note, the bank filed suit for principal and interest in a Louisiana court, which suit was removed on diversity grounds to Federal District Court. Petitioners alleged, as a defense against the bank's claim, that the land purchase and their note had been procured by the bank's misrepresentations overstating the amount of land and mineral acres in the tract, and falsely stating that there were no outstanding mineral leases on the property. No references to the alleged representations appeared in the documents executed by petitioners, in the bank's records, or in the minutes of the bank's board of directors or loan committee. While the suit was pending, a Louisiana official closed the bank because of its unsound condition, and appointed the FDIC as receiver. The FDIC ultimately acquired petitioners' note, and was substituted as a plaintiff in this lawsuit. The District Court granted summary judgment for the FDIC, and the Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the word "agreement" in a provision of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act of 1950, 12 U.S.C. § 1823(e), encompassed the kinds of material terms or warranties asserted by petitioners in their misrepresentation defense and, because § 1823(e)'s requirements were not met, the defense was barred. Section 1823(e) provides that no "agreement" tending to diminish or defeat the FDIC's "right, title or interest" in any asset acquired by the FDIC under the section shall be valid against the FDIC unless it shall have been (1) in writing, (2) executed contemporaneously with the bank's acquisition of the asset, (3) approved by the bank's board of directors or loan committee and reflected in the minutes of the board or committee, and (4) continuously, from the time of its execution, an official record of the bank.

Held: A condition to payment of a note, including the truth of an express warranty, is part of the "agreement" to which the requirements of § 1823(e) attach. Because the representations alleged by petitioners

Page 484 U. S. 87

constituted such a condition and did not meet the statute's requirements, they cannot be asserted as a defense here. Pp. 484 U. S. 90-96.

(a) The word "agreement" in § 1823(e) is not limited to an express promise to perform an act in the future. The essence of petitioners' defense is that the bank made certain warranties regarding the land, the truth of which was a condition to performance of their obligation to repay the loan. As used in commercial and contract law, the term "agreement" often has a wider meaning than a promise, and embraces such a condition upon performance. This common meaning of the word "agreement" must be assigned to its usage in § 1823(e) if that section is to fulfill its intended purposes of allowing federal and state bank examiners to rely on a bank's records in evaluating the bank's assets, ensuring mature consideration of unusual loan transactions by senior bank officials, and preventing fraudulent insertion of new terms, with the collusion of bank employees, when a bank appears headed for failure. Cf. D'Oench, Duhme & Co. v. FDIC, 315 U. S. 447. Pp. 484 U. S. 90-93.

(b) There is no merit to petitioners' argument that, even if a misrepresentation concerning an existing fact can sometimes constitute an agreement covered by § 1823(e), it at least does not do so when the misrepresentation was fraudulent and the FDIC had knowledge of the asserted defense when it acquired the note. Neither fraud in the inducement nor the FDIC's knowledge thereof is relevant to the section's application. No conceivable reading of the word "agreement" in § 1823(e) could cause it to cover a representation or warranty that is bona fide, but to exclude one that is fraudulent. The bank's alleged misrepresentations here did not constitute fraud in the factum, which would render the note void and take it out of § 1823(e), but instead constituted only fraud in the inducement, which rendered the note voidable, but not void. The bank therefore had and could transfer to the FDIC voidable title, which was enough to constitute "title or interest" in the note for the purpose of § 1823(e). Even if this Court had the power to engraft an equitable exception upon the statute's plain terms, the equities petitioners invoke are not the equities the statute regards as predominant. Pp. 484 U. S. 93-96.

792 F.2d 541, affirmed.

SCALIA, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.

Page 484 U. S. 88

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