Chris Houpt is a co-chair of Mayer Brown's Banking & Finance Litigation group, concentrating on banking and finance matters, particularly cases involving cross-border issues; securitization, structured finance, and derivatives; and asset turnover. Recognized as a Rising Star by Law360 (for Banking) and the New York Law Journal, Chris has represented securitization trustees and investors in and out of litigation. Those engagements include the first case against an RMBS trustee to go to trial, which resulted in a complete victory for the trustee, three appeals limiting trustee liability, and judicial instruction (Article 77) proceedings relating to some of the largest RMBS underwriting and servicing settlements. Partly as a result of those wins, plaintiffs in three cases against Chris’s trustee clients have simply walked away, after years of litigation. Chris is also active in securitization industry groups and is the co-chair of SFIG’s RMBS 3.0 Litigation and Arbitration Workstream.
Chris has also represented foreign banks in US litigation and is experienced in coordinating lawsuits in multiple forums. Most recently, he represented a German bank in a successful jury trial involving municipal bond reinvestment contracts.
Chris began in Mayer Brown's Supreme Court & Appellate practice. His appellate experience includes briefs in the US Supreme Court, federal Courts of Appeals, and state appellate courts, as well as oral arguments in the New York Appellate Division.
Chris joined Mayer Brown in 2005, after serving as a foreign law clerk for the Honorable Aharon Barak, President of the Supreme Court of Israel. During law school, Chris was an editor on the Harvard Law Review and a Teaching Fellow for the Harvard Economics Department. Previously, he worked in portfolio management at the D. E. Shaw Group and as a manager in the finance department of Covad Communications. Chris passed the National Futures Association’s Series 3 exam in 2000 and has completed the first two levels of the Chartered Financial Analyst® program.
Notable Engagements—RMBS Trustees
- Argued the appeal in Fixed Income Shares v. Citibank (N.Y. App. Div.), which held that trustees have no duty to trigger Events of Default, rejecting the “prevention doctrine” theory that dozens of federal courts had employed to sustain similar claims.
- Briefed the appeal in Commerce Bank v. BNY Mellon (N.Y. Appellate Division), which rejected efforts to impose extra-contractual duties on securitization trustees. Case was later abandoned by plaintiffs.
- Argued successful motion to dismiss that produced the first post-Daimler dismissal of a case against a trustee for lack of personal jurisdiction. Commerce Bank v. BNY Mellon (Missouri Circuit Court).
- Argued motion that led to the dismissal on the pleadings of qui tam claims against RMBS trustees. U.S. ex rel. Szymoniak v. AHM Servicing et al. (D. South Carolina).
- Won dismissals of suits against trustees by former investors and CDO investors for lack of standing. FDIC v. Citibank; FDIC v. BNY Mellon; Triaxx v. BNY Mellon (S.D.N.Y.).
- Briefed successful interlocutory appeal holding that the Trust Indenture Act does not apply to most RMBS and that claims against trustees must be proved “loan by loan and trust by trust.” The case was abandoned by the putative class representatives after five years. Retirement Board v. BNY Mellon (S.D.N.Y.).
- Defended expert witnesses and gave closing argument in the successful court approval of 8.5 billion and $4.5 billion settlements of mortgage-loan origination and servicing claims. In re The Bank of N.Y. Mellon (N.Y. Commercial Division).
Notable Engagements—Securitization and Derivatives
- Represented noteholders of super-senior securities in Lehman Brothers-related litigation relating to the interpretation and enforceability in bankruptcy of CDO contracts, including “waterfall flip” terms.
- Represented CDO trustee in successful defense of its interpretation of waterfall and subordination terms of indenture.
- Filed amicus briefs for ISDA and SIFMA in cases addressing the bankruptcy safe harbors for derivatives and other financial contracts.
- Advised CDO investors on litigation issues arising from decisions to accelerate notes or direct trustees.
- Represented Lehman Brothers derivatives counterparties, including from Japan, France, Belgium, and Canada, in disputes over ISDA close-out calculations following bankruptcy.
Notable Engagements—Cross-Border Litigation and Asset Turnover
- Briefed motions to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction or forum non conveniens (or both) for financial-industry clients from Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Hungary, The Bahamas, and Lebanon.
- Represented Hungarian and German banks in successful defense of litigation over Holocaust-era claims.
- Represented Lebanese bank in successful defense of Anti-Terrorism Act and Alien Tort Claims Act claim.
- Filed amicus brief for Institute of International Bankers in case in which plaintiff sought to apply New York’s Koehler doctrine to obtain turnover of assets from a non-U.S. subsidiary of the defendant garnishee.
- Filed amicus brief for American Bankers Association supporting indenture trustee in Argentine sovereign debt litigation.
- Represents garnishee banks in cases in which judgment creditors of Iran and Cuba seek turnover of OFAC-blocked accounts under the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act.
- Represented European bank in Hague Convention production of documents from France and U.K., also involving U.S. bank examination privilege.
Harvard Law School, JD, cum laude
Harvard Law Review
Dartmouth College, (Economics and Japanese double major / Applied Math minor), magna cum laude
Phi Beta Kappa; Rufus Choate Scholar
- New York
- US District Court for the Southern District of New York
- US District Court for the Eastern District of New York
- US District Court for the Western District of New York
- US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
- US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
- US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
- New York City Bar Association, Committee on State Courts of Superior Jurisdiction
- Selden Society