01 Apr Innocent Doctor Arrested Due to Bank Error
We are proud to report the results of a three day trial against Bank of America, on behalf of a local physician who was arrested as the result of a bank error.
In connection with their divorce, our client and his former wife had asked the bank to change what had formerly been a joint checking account into a single account, in the wife’s name only.
This was in 2004.
After that date, and after the divorce in 2004 client and wife maintained separate accounts. Client would fund his alimony and related support obligations by transferring from his account into what was now her account. Some would go automatically and some would be sent on-line by client. Each would also use their accounts for bill pay of their personal bills. This was the situation for three years.
In January of 2007, client made his personal bill payments in the usual way. But because of an unrelated transaction by client involving his account, that account was “frozen” and the bill payments he made on that day “defaulted” to, and were paid from, her account. And when she went to the bank, and even though it was immediately refunded by his account, and she eventually heard that a bank error had made it possible, she was led to believe he had to have done something intentionally.
Once he was told of the disputed transaction, and immediately paid back the $1,100, he quickly forgot about the incident. But she persisted in her investigation and the bank never checked into it further. And the bank never learned or told her that the unrelated transaction involving the client’s account had led to a temporary “freeze” of that account, which in some manner prompted his personal bills, for $1,100, to come out of her account. And when she prompted the police to investigate, they got the same story: “he had to have done something deliberately – he had to have entered her pin number, or her password, or something.”
So she swore out a warrant, and he was arrested at his home by a team of Charleston Police at 5:00 am, handcuffed in front of a son, with absolutely no idea why. And jailed for 13 hours. And had to hire an attorney to investigate the case and, eventually, get it dropped, 11 months later, when the bank could not convince the prosecutor that there had been criminal wrong-doing.
After hearing this case, Judge J. C. Nicholson, Jr. awarded the physician $85,000 for his troubles and signed a judgment for that amount on December 12, 2011.
The Bank has advised it will appeal the decision.
Your comments, as always, are welcomed.