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Banca Cremi, S.A. v. Alex. Brown & Sons, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
132 F.3d 1017 (4th Cir. 1997)


Banca Cremi, S.A. (Banca) (plaintiff), a Mexican bank, bought collateralized mortgage obligations (CMOs) from Alex. Brown & Sons, Inc. (Alex) (defendant), a Baltimore-based investment-banking firm, at a purchase price of around $40,000,000 after being cold-called by someone from Alex. The classes that Banca purchased were inverse floaters and inverse interest-only strips, which were both high risk. Three well-educated investment professionals employed by Banca conducted an investigation of the CMOs, and Banca itself consulted with five other brokerage houses regarding the CMO investments. Banca played the CMOs aggressively and profited considerably until 1994, when interest rates increased unexpectedly. Much of the CMO market collapsed at that time, and Banca lost around $21,000,000. Banca sued Alex on multiple grounds, including fraud and suitability, for essentially misrepresenting the risk of the CMOs. Alex moved for summary judgment, which was granted by the district court. Banca appealed.

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