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COA: Bank could charge back account after check is lost

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A man who withdrew nearly all of the money in a bank account is personally liable to pay back that money to the bank, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Thursday. The bank had lost a check deposited into the account and the account holder was unable to help the bank identify the check writer to obtain a replacement check.

James R. Sapp had multiple bank accounts with Flagstar Bank and other banks in and out of state. He deposited $125,000 in late August 2005 into his account referred to as SF7 that was the account of an LLC he had formed. The check was a cashier’s check made up of various amounts from other banks paid to some of Sapps’ businesses as well as some unidentified amount of cash. Almost all of the money was gone from the account 16 days after the deposit; Sapp had deposited $100,000 from the SF7 account into an account to which only he had access.

In November 2005, Flagstar debited $125,000 from the SF7 account and was only able to recover nearly $2,000. This was after the bank pressed Sapp to help it identify who issued the previous check in order to obtain a replacement. In 2007, the bank sued Sapp for breach of contract, theft, conversion and unjust enrichment. The trial court ruled in favor of the bank on its claims and ordered Sapp to pay attorney fees.

The transaction was not final, as Sapp had argued, because the account agreement states that the account holder agrees to be liable for any account shortage resulting from a charge or an overdraft. He chose to withdraw funds from the SF7 account while the provision credit was in place, the COA ruled in James R. Sapp v. Flagstar Bank, FSB, 49A02-1311-PL-935.

“Had Sapp not written any of those checks, the account would still have held the $125,000 provision credit and would not have been overdrawn when that credit was revoked,” Judge John Baker wrote in finding Sapp liable for the shortage in the account.

Sapp argued the bank waited too long to notify him the check had been lost and that the transaction had been “finalized” based on language in the account agreement. The agreement allowed Sapp to withdraw the funds based on the provision credit, but it also put him on notice that he would be liable for any checks deposited in the account that are unpaid.

The judges upheld the order that Sapp pay the bank’s attorney fees, again citing the account agreement. They also remanded for the trial court to decide the amount of appellate attorney fees to which Flagstar may be entitled.
 

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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