Ordinarily, there's not much reason to get excited about a state intermediate appeals court upholding a procedural ruling by a trial court judge. But in the litigation between bond insurers and mortgage-backed securities issuers, decisions are not only magnified by the tens of billions of dollars at stake, but also by the paucity of precedent. Almost every ruling is groundbreaking, which means that decisions have an impact far beyond a single case.
With that in mind, there are two reasons why a ruling Thursday by the New York Appellate Division, First Department, is a setback for Bank of America: timing and authority.
Without much comment, the state appeals court affirmed two rulings by New York State Supreme Court Justice Eileen Bransten, who last fall denied motions by Bank of America to sever and consolidate successor liability claims against the bank in four bond insurer cases against Countrywide. "The court properly exercised its discretion in denying defendant's motion to sever plaintiffs' successor liability claims from the primary claims and to consolidate them, for purposes of discovery, in a single action," the appellate decision said. "The successor liability actions are at completely different stages of discovery, and consolidation would result in undue delay."