Joe Dowdy is a go-to litigation and trial and appellate practice lawyer for banks, lenders, and other financial services companies in matters pending throughout the Unites States. During his years of practice he has handled a broad variety of matters involving financial services, including:
Commercial Debt Collection
Consumer Class Actions
Consumer Lender Liability
General Commercial Banking
He has served as national counsel and class action counsel for large banks in matters pending in North Carolina and West Virginia, where he is licensed, and in California, Kentucky, Maryland, Texas, South Carolina, and Virginia through local counsel as appropriate. Drawing on his deep experience in banking, Mr. Dowdy also has acted as counsel to a special committee of the board of directors in an interested party merger of two large North Carolina community banks. Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Dowdy was a partner and the leader of the financial services litigation group in the Raleigh office of a large east coast law firm.
In response to client needs during the financial services crisis, Mr. Dowdy became particularly active in consumer and creditor-rights litigation. He has extensive knowledge of the “alphabet soup” of federal lending law and similar state statutes (such as the TCPA, FDCPA, and West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act). He is one of the few attorneys to settle a consumer class action for significantly less than the judgment amount after the court directed notice of a larger award to the class members. In his role as national counsel for a large national bank and a large federal savings bank, Mr. Dowdy earned a reputation for effectively presenting coordinated positions in multiple cases pending in a state or region. In his work for national, regional, and community institutions, Mr. Dowdy has litigated title disputes and allegations concerning the validity of secured instruments, appraisal issues, account opening and closing issues, multi-million dollar disagreements about wealth management services and collateral securities, and allegations of discriminatory origination practices. He also has represented lenders in responses to regulatory inquiries and administrative enforcement proceedings involving consumer complaints or regulatory examination findings.
Mr. Dowdy also has experience with insurance matters, which includes both general insurance litigation work and insurance work that is specific to the financial services industry. He works with the Firm’s insurance coverage group in coverage disputes, and he handled litigation matters for insurers at his prior firm. He has defended claims, including class actions, against lenders and loan servicers and their affiliated insurance companies involving the forced placement of hazard insurance and coverage and benefits for credit life insurance and lender-placed hazard policies. He also has pursued coverage claims on behalf of his lender clients.
In addition to his work for financial services companies, Mr. Dowdy has maintained a broad commercial and general litigation and appellate practice, covering matters involving contracts and commercial relationships, constitutional protections, products liability, intellectual property misappropriation, statutory unfair and deceptive trade practices, libel and slander, negligence, other individual and business torts, labor and employment, tax, healthcare, domestic, and zoning law. His pro bono work includes filing petitions for certiorari in the United States Supreme Court on behalf of homeless citizens and a whistleblower who uncovered Medicare fraud as well as the submission of an influential amicus brief in the Massachusetts crime lab scandal case.
Mr. Dowdy holds an AV Preeminent® Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell*, a listing for Commercial Litigation in The Best Lawyers in America® 2018, and a designation as a North Carolina Rising Star from Super Lawyers from 2012 to 2018. He was a featured speaker at the fiftieth anniversary of the North Carolina Court of Appeals and the class speaker of the thirtieth class of Leadership Raleigh. In 2014, Kilpatrick Townsend awarded him its “Embracing Our Values Award” for extraordinary pro bono and community service efforts. His prior firm awarded him its Renaissance Associate Award for extraordinary achievement in client service, training, pro bono, marketing, recruiting, and mentoring. He is a 2010 graduate of the prestigious Trial Academy of the International Association of Defense Counsel.
*AV®, BV®, AV Preeminent® and BV Distinguished® are registered certification marks of Reed Elsevier Properties Inc., used under in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards and policies.
Acted as lead counsel in putative class action cases alleging violation of the Electronic Fund Transfer Act regarding signage on ATM machines. The cases ultimately resolved. Harrison v. TrustAtlantic Bank, No. 5:11-cv-00267-BO (E.D.N.C. 2011), Ohri v. TrustAtlantic Bank, No. 5:11- cv-00668-F (E.D.N.C. 2011); Kinder v. Southern Community Bank And Trust, No. 1:11-cv-00426-UA-WWD (M.D.N.C. 2011).
Served as lead class counsel for LendingTree in a West Virginia federal court case alleging the unauthorized practice of law in the closing of residential home mortgage loans where the signature portion of such closings were conducted by notaries not acting under the supervision of attorneys. The defense managed the case to a verdict that was significantly less than the plaintiff’s demand and ultimately settled the case on appeal for less than sixty percent of the total judgment amount. Dijkstra v. Home Loan Center d/b/a LendingTree Loans, No. 5:11-cv-00152 (N.D. W. Va.).
Served as lead national counsel for Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank, Bank of America, and MERS (through local counsel) in the proceedings before the United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. The case involved allegations that Defendants: (1) improperly securitized a loan thereby rendering it invalid; (2) lost original loan documents and committed or condoned so-called “robo-signing” with respect to the transfer of a note and deed of trust; (3) improperly force-placed escrow following the non-payment of taxes; (4) engaged in bad faith loss mitigation and violated HAMP by failing to provide a loan modification; (5) breached a contract to provide loss mitigation; (6) committed fraud; (7) violated TILA, RESPA, and other federal statutes; (8) violated the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act, and (9) committed one or more breaches of contract. All of the claims were dismissed on Defendants’ motions to dismiss and for summary judgment, and the orders dismissing the case were upheld on appeal. Wittenberg v. First Indep. Mortgage Co., 3:10-CV-58, 2011 WL 1357483 (N.D.W. Va. Apr. 11, 2011); Wittenberg v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 852 F. Supp. 2d 731 (N.D.W. Va. 2012) aff'd sub nom. Wittenberg v. First Indep. Mortgage Co., 12-1323, 2013 WL 3929082 (4th Cir. July 31, 2013); see also McFadden v. Fed. Nat. Mortgage Ass'n, 525 F. App'x 223 (4th Cir. 2013); James v. Vanderbilt Mortgage & Fin., Inc., No. 3:11CV498-MOC-DSC, 2012 WL 441170 (W.D.N.C. Jan. 23, 2012) aff'd, 3:11CV498, 2012 WL 440355 (W.D.N.C. Feb. 10, 2012); In re Moore, 470 B.R. 390 (Bankr. S.D.W. Va. 2012); In re Gloria J. Wolfe, 09-1326, 2012 WL 996927 (Bankr. N.D.W. Va. Mar. 23, 2012); Down v. Flagstar Bank, F.S.B., No. 3:10-CV-847, 2011 WL 1326961 (E.D. Va. Apr. 4, 2011); Wolfe v. Greentree Mortgage Corp., No. 3:09-CV-74, 2010 WL 391629 (N.D.W. Va. Jan. 26, 2010); Clendenin v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., No. 2:09-CV-00557, 2009 WL 4263506 (S.D.W. Va. Nov. 24, 2009); Manning et al v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., No. 1:2009-cv-00083 (N.D.W. Va. June 19, 2009); Capparelli v. AmeriFirst Home Imp. Fin. Co., 535 F. Supp. 2d 554 (E.D.N.C. 2008).
Served as trial counsel for a national telecommunications company in a case concerning Fifth Amendment rights following the forced relocation of telecommunications facilities in connection with road improvement projects by a large municipality.
Served as lead counsel in a case alleging a fraudulent credit life policy and involving an issue of whether arbitration conflicts with the Bankruptcy Code. The bankruptcy court held that arbitration did not conflict with the bankruptcy code, that the debtor’s claims against the seller of a manufactured home must be arbitrated, and that debtor's unconscionability challenge to the arbitration agreement must be decided by an arbitrator. At the conclusion of the ensuing arbitration hearing, Mr. Dowdy resolved the case. In re Barker, 12-51160, 2014 WL 2113684 (Bankr. W.D.N.C. May 20, 2014).
Served as lead counsel in a fair lending case pending in a New York Federal Court in which the plaintiffs alleged that the bank’s informal inquiry process violated the federal Fair Housing Act and companion state statutes. Mr. Dowdy ultimately resolved the case on favorable terms for the client.
Acted as lead counsel to a national bank and investment services company in a two-week hearing before an American Arbitration Association neutral on claims involving the alleged refusal to honor trades of collateral securities and incorrect valuation of collateral real property. The demand sought more than $20 million in damages and alleged, inter alia, violations of the anti-tying provisions of the bank holding company act, breach of contract, and violations of state banking laws.
Served as co-class counsel in a putative class action case alleging improper handling of an escrow account and improper forced placement of hazard insurance. The defense took a principled position in discovery and, prior to class certification, brought the matter before the court on motions to compel discovery and motions to dismiss for discovery violations. The case settled. Smith v. GMAC Mortgage, LLC, Case No. 5:06-cv-125-V (W.D.N.C.).
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University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law, J.D. (2003) with honors
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, B.A., Political Science (2000) with distinction
North Carolina (2003)
West Virginia (2016)
Supreme Court of the United States
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
North Carolina State, Federal, and Bankruptcy Courts
West Virginia State Courts and U.S. District and Bankruptcy Courts for the Southern District of West Virginia
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
North Carolina Court of Appeals - Honorable J. Douglas McCullough
North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys, Member, Financial Services Committee
DRI, Member, Class Action Steering Committee
North Carolina Bar Association, Member
West Virginia Bar Association, Member
American Bar Association, Member
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