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Court rules on bank interpleader case

January 1, 2007
The Indiana Supreme Court has issued a decision on how a state statute governs recovery when a financial institution interpleads and pays into court-deposited funds that are subject to an adverse claim.

A unanimous opinion came Wednesday in Porter Development, LLC v. First National Bank of Valparaiso, No.64S04-0606-CV-236, stemming from a Porter Superior case involving the bank and the development company.

First National initiated the action as an interpleader, alleging it was the holder of a $100,000 certificate of deposit owned by Porter Development and eventually assigned to another party, Eagle Services Corp., which refused to consent for withdrawing the funds as the development company wanted. Both asserted their rights to the deposit and filed suits.

The trial court determined the assignment to Eagle Services was invalid and Porter Development was the true owner, but it granted summary judgment to the bank on the interpleader action and partial summary judgment to Porter on a request to recover attorney fees and costs. The Court of Appeals affirmed that decision, and now the justices have done the same.

"We conclude that Indiana's Adverse Claim Interpleader statute is mandatory and establishes the right of a depository financial institution that pays funds subject to an adverse claim into a court 'to recover and collect the costs and expenses, including attorney's fees, incurred by the depository financial institution'...."Justice Brent Dickson wrote. "We hold, however, that such a right to recovery only includes those costs and expenses that are extended in bringing a proper interpleader, or successfully defending its use of interpleader."

Justices reversed the trial court's partial summary judgment denying the bank attorney fees, remanding it to determine reasonable expenses and how Eagle Services - if at all - should be involved in the payment.
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