Bayerische Landesbank, NY v. Aladdin Capital Mgmt., LLC, No. 11-4306 (2d Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
Aladdin’s purportedly gross mismanagement allegedly caused plaintiffs to lose their entire $60 million investment in a collateralized debt obligation. A CDO pays investors based on performance of an underlying asset. The CDO at issue was “synthetic” in that its asset was not a traditional asset like a stock or bond, but was a derivative instrument, whose value was determined in reference to still other assets. The derivative instrument was a “credit default swap” between Aladdin CDO and Goldman Sachs based on the debt of approximately 100 corporate entities and sovereign states. The district court held that, because of a contract provision limiting intended third-party beneficiaries to those “specifically provided herein,” plaintiffs could not bring a third-party beneficiary breach of contract claim and could not “recast” their claim in tort. The Second Circuit reversed. Plaintiffs plausibly alleged that the parties intended the contract to benefit investors in the CDO directly and create obligations running from Aladdin to the investors; that the relationship between Aladdin and plaintiffs was sufficiently close to create a duty in tort; and that Aladdin acted with gross negligence in managing the investment portfolio, leading to the failure of the investment vehicle and plaintiffs’ losses.