Banking Law

Skilled Legal Guidance for Financial Institutions in the Ocala Area

Both Florida state law and federal law regulate banks. Your financial institution is expected to comply with many statutes, regulations, and directives of agencies. A well-run bank can be an asset to shareholders and the community. The diligent business law attorneys at the Dean Law Firm in Ocala can offer sound advice to make sure that your bank meets governmental expectations as well as the expectations of those who interact with you on a daily basis. We offer decades of combined experience to protect your rights in connection with commercial documents, negotiable instruments, creditor and lending law, collections, and commercial litigation.

Commercial Litigation and the Legal Duties of Banks

Allegations against a bank may include breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, misrepresentation, commercial foreclosure issues, predatory lending, bad faith, or mortgage fraud. As a lender, when expectations of payment are frustrated, a bank's employees may act in a way that exposes it to liability. Similarly, lender liability may arise when a bank asks another institution to take a problematic loan but withholds information that the first loan is troubled, or when a bank undertakes a responsibility to a customer but does not follow through.

Florida courts have found that a fiduciary relationship exists between borrowers and lenders in limited circumstances. A fiduciary relationship will exist if a bank knows or has reason to know that a consumer has placed trust in the bank and relies on the bank for counsel and information. A fiduciary relationship may also be found if a lender takes on additional services for a customer or receives a financial benefit that is greater than usual.

For example, a fiduciary relationship may be created if a customer has been going to the same bank for a decade and asks the bank for advice on an investment, and the bank assures the customer that the investment is sound and offers an initial loan to fund the investment. If, after the loan is made, the scheme collapses and the borrower loses his investment, the bank may be liable for a breach of fiduciary duty because an extra service was offered and reassurances were given. In other words, the customer claimed dependency, and the bank voluntarily assumed a duty to advise and counsel.

Florida courts have found a fiduciary relationship can be created even with a mere oral misrepresentation. Once the fiduciary relationship is established, the bank will be found to have had a duty to disclose all the essential and material facts related to the transaction about which advice was offered.

Conversely, there are times when a bank must enforce its rights. For example, you may need to bring a foreclosure lawsuit by filing a complaint and serving it on the borrower. The Florida Fair Foreclosure Act, enacted through House Bill 87, has made substantive changes to how foreclosure must be conducted. The goal was to speed up the foreclosure process, and as a result, homeowners have less time to be considered for a loan modification or arrange an alternative. If the total debt owed by the borrower exceeds the foreclosure sale price, you may want to seek a personal judgment against the debtor to recover the deficiency. As of July 1, 2013, banks have only one year to seek a deficiency judgment in the case of residential properties with no more than four dwelling units. The deficiency judgment may not exceed the difference between the judgment amount and the fair market value of a residential property if the owner occupies the property. Our attorneys can aggressively protect your rights in this situation and others.

Contact Business Law Attorneys in Crystal River

At the Dean Law Firm in Crystal River, our trustworthy business litigation lawyers provide objective approaches and knowledgeable guidance to help your Florida bank avoid legal troubles, even under the newly narrowed timelines associated with foreclosures, Schedule an initial consultation with us by calling 352-387-8700 or filling out our online form to arrange a free consultation. We represent financial institutions in Marion, Citrus, Levy, Sumter, and Lake Counties.