Articles Posted in Banking

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Aliant Bank, a division of USAmeribank ("Aliant"), sued various individuals and business entities involved in a failed effort to develop the Twelve Oaks subdivision in Odenville, alleging that, as a result of those defendants' conspiracy and wrongful actions, Aliant's security interest in the property upon which the Twelve Oaks subdivision was to be built had been rendered worthless. The Circuit Court ultimately entered a number of orders either dismissing Aliant's claims or entering a summary judgment in favor of the various defendants. Aliant has filed three appeals; we affirm in part and reverse in part in appeals no. 1150822 and no. 1150823 and affirm in appeal no. 1150824. After careful consideration of all the claims, the Alabama Supreme Court affirmed those judgments in part and reversed them in part. In appeal no. 1150822, the Court reversed summary judgment against Aliant (1) on the negligence and breach-of-fiduciary duty claims asserted against the Board members in count four of Aliant's complaint; (2) on the fraudulent-misrepresentation and fraudulent-suppression claims asserted against Smith and Twelve Oaks Properties in count seven of Aliant's complaint; and (3) on the conspiracy claims asserted against Smith, Twelve Oaks Properties, Four Star Investments, Mize, and Billy Smith in count seven of Aliant's complaint. The Court affirmed summary judgment against Aliant and in favor of the various Twelve Oaks defendants in all other respects. In appeal no. 1150823, the Court reversed summary judgments against Aliant on the conspiracy claims asserted against Hunt and WHA in count seven of Aliant's complaint; however, the Court affirmed those summary judgments with regard to all other claims asserted by Aliant against Hunt and WHA. Finally, in appeal no. 1150824, the Court affirmed summary judgment against Aliant and in favor of the EOS defendants on all counts. View "Aliant Bank v. Wrathell, Hunt & Associates, LLC" on Justia Law

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Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. appealed a circuit court's denial of its claim for attorney fees against National Bank of Commerce ("NBC"). The claim at issue in this appeal stemmed from a lawsuit concerning the deposit of a check issued by Jennifer Champion, treasurer of Jefferson County, for $178,916.42 in settlement of claims made in Winston v. Jefferson County, a class-action lawsuit concerning excess tax bids. The check was drawn on Jefferson County's account with Wachovia Bank, N.A. (a predecessor to Wells Fargo), and it was jointly payable to the order of Carl Prewitt, Debra Prewitt, Renasant Bank, and Moore Oil Co., Inc. ("Moore Oil"). After the check was issued, it was mailed to the Prewitts, received by Debra Prewitt. The check was stamped "for deposit only," and it was deposited to an account in the name of Liberty Investing, LLC ("Liberty Investing"), at Red Mountain Bank (a predecessor to NBC), using a remote scanner that was provided by NBC's predecessor to Creative Edge Landscaping, Inc. It is undisputed that the check was deposited without endorsements and that the Prewitts were not signatories on the Liberty Investing account. Wells Fargo's predecessor paid the check and debited Jefferson County's account. The Prewitts received the proceeds of the check over time through a series of withdrawals and transfers from the Liberty Investing account. Moore Oil became aware of the check, and by a letter it demanded that Jefferson County pay Moore Oil the amount of the check because, Moore Oil contended, it was entitled to the proceeds of the check. The Alabama Supreme Court fetermined Wells Fargo's claim for reimbursement of attorney fees expended in defense of the claim brought by Moore Oil lacked support in the applicable statutory scheme. Furthermore, neither of the "special equity" rules under which Wells Fargo claimed entitlement to reimbursement of its attorney fees was applicable in this situation. Finding no reversible error as to the denial of attorney fees to Wells Fargo, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court. View "Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. National Bank of Commerce" on Justia Law

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Aliant Bank, a division of USAmeribank ("Aliant"), sued various individuals and business entities involved in a failed effort to develop the Twelve Oaks subdivision in Odenville, alleging that, as a result of those defendants' conspiracy and wrongful actions, Aliant's security interest in the property upon which the Twelve Oaks subdivision was to be built had been rendered worthless. The Circuit Court ultimately entered a number of orders either dismissing Aliant's claims or entering a summary judgment in favor of the various defendants. Aliant filed three appeals. In appeal no. 1150822, the Alabama Supreme Court reversed summary judgment against Aliant: (1) on the negligence and breach-of-fiduciary duty claims asserted against the Board members in count four of Aliant's complaint; (2) on the fraudulent-misrepresentation and fraudulent-suppression claims asserted against Bobby Smith and Twelve Oaks Properties in count seven of Aliant's complaint; and (3) on the conspiracy claims asserted against Smith, Twelve Oaks Properties, Four Star Investments, Mize, and Billy Smith in count seven of Aliant's complaint. The Court affirmed summary judgment against Aliant and in favor of the various Twelve Oaks defendants in all other respects. In appeal no. 1150823, the Court reversed the summary judgments entered against Aliant on the fraudulent misrepresentation and conspiracy claims asserted against Pfil Hunt, and his management company Wrathell, Hunt & Associates, LLC, in count seven of Aliant's complaint; however, the Court affirmed those summary judgments with regard to all other claims asserted by Aliant against Hunt and WHA. Finally, in appeal no. 1150824, the Court affirmed summary judgment against Aliant and in favor of the Engineers of the South, LLC defendants on all counts. View "Aliant Bank v. Four Star Investments, Inc." on Justia Law

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In 2004, Deborah and Brian Blackmon executed an agreement establishing a home-equity line of credit with Renasant Bank secured by a mortgage on the Blackmons' house. In addition to making withdrawals on the home-equity line of credit, the Blackmons also made payments on the home-equity line of credit during that time. In 2013, Brian Blackmon died. Following Brian’s death, Deborah made five separate payments on the home equity line of credit. The payments made did not satisfy the entirety of the money the Blackmons owed Renasant Bank under the terms of the home-equity line of credit, and Deborah failed to make any additional payments. Deborah denied that she had executed the home-equity line of credit or the mortgage and, thus, denied liability for any outstanding balance due under the home-equity line of credit. Renasant Bank sued Deborah and the estate seeking a judgment declaring that the Blackmons had executed the agreement establishing a home-equity line of credit with Renasant Bank and a mortgage on the Blackmons' house securing the home-equity line of credit and asserting a claim of breach of contract seeking to recover the amount of money owed under the terms of the home-equity line of credit. Deborah and the estate filed an answer to Renasant Bank's complaint and asserted a counterclaim, requesting a judgment declaring that the mortgage on the Blackmons' house was not enforceable. The trial court granted partial summary judgment in favor of the bank and the Blackmons appealed. After review, the Supreme Court dismissed this appeal as the Blackmons’ appeal was of a nonfinal judgment. View "Blackmon v. Renasant Bank" on Justia Law

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Arvest Bank petitioned for mandamus relief, seeking to have the Autauga Circuit Court to vacate its order denying Arvest's motion to quash a writ of execution obtained by Iberiabank f/k/a Capitalsouth Bank ("Iberia") against real property owned by Evelyn Niland ("Evelyn"). Thomas Karrh, II transferred the property Iberia wanted to sell to Evelyn and her husband Raymond Niland as joint tenants with right of survivorship. The Nilands quitclaimed the property to Evelyn, removing Raymond from the title. Raymond stopped paying an existing debt to Iberia. Iberia obtained a judgment against Raymond for close to $125,000. Iberia filed a lien against all of Raymond's property. Evelyn transferred the property back to herself and Raymond, attempting to create a joint tenancy with the right of survivorship. At the same time Evelyn tried this transfer, she and her husband executed a mortgage to Arvest Bank. Iberia secured a writ of execution against the property; Arvest intervened to try to quash a sheriff's sale of the property. Raymond died shortly thereafter. The trial court granted the intervention and stayed the sale proceedings, but after Iberia opposed these actions, the sheriff's sale was permitted to proceed. Finding that Evelyn indeed did create a joint tenancy with the right of survivorship, the Supreme Court found that Iberia's interest was extinguished with Raymond's death, and that Iberia could not attach its writ to the property. The order denying Arvest's motion to quash the writ of execution was reversed and the case remanded for the trial court to grant Arvest's request. View "Ex parte Arvest Bank." on Justia Law

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PNC Bank, National Association, and Sonja Moore-Dennis separately appealed a Circuit Court order denying their motion to compel arbitration as to Joseph Franklin's claims against them. Franklin had three bank accounts with the predecessor bank to PNC Bank, RBC Bank (USA), before RBC Bank merged with PNC Bank. Shortly before the merger, PNC Bank, in January 2012, allegedly mailed a welcome letter and a PNC Bank Account Agreement. The account agreement did not contain an arbitration provision. Tamara Franklin, Franklin's niece came to to visit one day. Tamara noticed a document that she thought was a bank statement from PNC Bank. After looking at the document, Tamara was concerned that Franklin owed money to PNC Bank. Franklin said he did not owe PNC Bank any money but that Tamara could call his financial advisor, Sonja Moore-Dennis, if she had any concerns. Franklin alleged that Moore-Dennis was a PNC Bank agent or employee at this time; PNC Bank denies that it had ever employed Moore-Dennis. After investigating the matter, Franklin and Tamara came to the conclusion that Moore-Dennis had been stealing funds from Franklin's accounts. Additionally, it appeared to Franklin and Tamara that Moore-Dennis had created an online banking profile for Franklin but had set up the profile so that account notifications were sent to her e-mail address. Franklin, who is elderly, did not have Internet access or an e-mail address and did not know how to use online banking. Franklin sued PNC Bank and Moore-Dennis alleging fraud, suppression, breach of fiduciary duty, and various forms of negligence and wantonness. PNC Bank moved to compel arbitration, raising the terms of the account agreement as grounds for its motion. The Alabama Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s order, finding that the Bank and Moore-Dennis failed to prove that Franklin received the account agreement or accessed a specific web page that contained the arbitration provision as described in the account agreement. View "Moore-Dennis v. Franklin" on Justia Law

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Aliant Bank appealed the entry of an injunction against it by the Shelby Circuit Court enjoining it from interfering with a contract for the sale of real property between Kimberly and Kerry Carter, on the one hand, and Gregory and Robyn Nunley, on the other. The Carters owned, as joint tenants, a piece of real property located in Shelby County. The Carters used the property to secure a mortgage from Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. ("MERS"). In addition to the MERS mortgage, three creditors secured judgments against Kerry Carter against the property. Aliant was fourth to secure its judgment lien against Kerry Carter. On August 21, 2014, the Carters entered into a contract with the Nunleys for the sale of the property. At the time the Carters entered into the contract, the judgment liens against the property had not been satisfied. The preliminary settlement statement for the sale of the property indicated that a portion of the sale proceeds would be used to pay off the outstanding mortgage held by MERS on the property. The first judgment creditor thereafter agreed to release its judgment lien on the property in exchange for a smaller portion of the sale proceeds. The record did not indicate that the second or third judgment creditor agreed to release its judgment lien against the property. However, the record was clear that Aliant refused to release its judgment lien against the property. Apparently, Aliant's refusal to execute a release of its judgment lien inhibited the closing of the contract. On September 14, 2014, the Carters sued Aliant, alleging that Aliant had intentionally and maliciously refused to execute a partial release of the property "in order to prohibit [Kerry] Carter from being able to fulfill his obligations under the purchase contract even though all profits due Kerry Carter are being disgorged and paid to the appropriate judgment creditor, [the first judgment creditor]." The trial court granted an injunction against Aliant. Subsequently, Aliant petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus directing the circuit court to vacate its injunction order. The Supreme Court treated Aliant's petition for a writ of mandamus as a timely notice of appeal. After the Supreme Court recharacterized Aliant's petition, Aliant filed its appellant's brief. Instead of filing an appellee's brief, the Carters moved to dismiss Aliant's petition as moot, alleging that the property had been foreclosed upon by MERS. The Carters did not present the Supreme Court with any evidence indicating that MERS had, in fact, foreclosed upon the property. Aliant opposed the motion to dismiss. After review, the Supreme Court agreed with the Carters that the injunctive relief they requested was no longer attainable and that, consequently, the case was no longer justiciable. Accordingly, the Supreme Court dismissed Aliant's appeal. View "Aliant Bank v. Carter" on Justia Law

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U.S. Bank National Association ("USB"), successor in interest to Bank of America, N.A., which was the successor by merger to LaSalle Bank, National Association, as trustee for Structured Asset Investment Loan Trust, Mortgage Pass-Through Certificates, Series 2004-4 ("the Trust"), and Bank of America, N.A. ("BOA"), separately appealed a $3.9 million judgment entered against them on trespass and wantonness claims asserted by Chester and Emily Shepherd. USB also appealed the trial court's judgment in favor of the Shepherds on its claims related to an alleged error in a mortgage executed by the Shepherds upon which the Trust had foreclosed. The Alabama Supreme Court reversed. "'Every single one of these cases . . . rejects the availability of negligence and wantonness claims under Alabama law under comparable circumstances to those identified by the [plaintiffs]. Every one of these cases undercuts the legal viability of [the plaintiffs' negligence and wantonness claims], and rejects the very arguments articulated by the [plaintiffs] in opposing dismissal of those causes of action. ... the mortgage servicing obligations at issue here are a creature of contract, not of tort, and stem from the underlying mortgage and promissory note executed by the parties, rather than a duty of reasonable care generally owed to the public. To the extent that the [plaintiffs] seek to hold defendants liable on theories of negligent or wanton servicing of their mortgage, [those negligence and wantonness claims] fail to state claims upon which relief can be granted.'" View "U.S. Bank National Ass'n v. Shepherd" on Justia Law

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Appellants Branch Banking & Trust Company ("BB&T"), Rusty Winfree, and Todd Fullington appealed a circuit court judgment entered in favor of Rex Nichols ("Sonny") and Claudene Nichols on the Nicholses' claims against appellants and on BB&T's counterclaim against the Nicholses. In late 2005, Sonny began talking to Winfree about obtaining financing from Colonial Bank ("Colonial"), Winfree's employer, for the purchase of approximately 500 acres of real property in Stapleton, Alabama. The Nicholses intended to develop the Stapleton property into a subdivision. In February 2006, the Nicholses executed a loan agreement with Colonial, in which Colonial agreed to lend the Nicholses close to $2.8 million to purchase the property. Sonny testified that in late 2007, as the maturity date on the note approached, he began contacting Colonial regarding renewing the loan; he further testified that, around the same time, Winfree became slow to communicate with him. Sonny also testified that before the February 27, 2008, maturity date on the promissory note, he spoke to Fullington about renewing the loan, with Colonial carrying the interest going forward. A few weeks later, the Nicholses were notified that Colonial would not carry the interest on the loan or provide additional funds for development of the property. Colonial ultimately renewed the terms of the note until Colonial failed in August 2009. The FDIC assumed control of its assets and liabilities. The FDIC sold many of Colonial's assets and liabilities to BB&T, including the Nicholses' loan. Fullington was hired by BB&T; Winfree was not. In early November 2009, BB&T informed the Nicholses that it would not lend them additional funds to develop the property. The Nicholses stopped making interest payments on the loan in November 2009. On March 10, 2010, the Nicholses sued the appellants and fictitiously named defendants, alleging fraud, reformation, negligence, wantonness, and breach of fiduciary duty against all appellants. Against BB&T, the Nicholses also alleged a claim of unjust enrichment and sought damages on a theory of promissory estoppel. The appellants separately moved the circuit court to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), Ala. R. Civ. P. BB&T also filed a counterclaim, alleging that the Nicholses had defaulted on their obligations under a June 2009 promissory note and seeking damages related to that default. The circuit court denied the motions to dismiss the complaint but granted a motion to strike the request for a jury trial. Upon review, the Supreme Court held that the circuit court erred in entering a judgment in favor of the Nicholses on their claims against the appellants and on BB&T's counterclaim against them. The judgment was reversed and the case remanded with instructions to the circuit court to enter a judgment in favor of the appellants on the Nicholses' claims against them and in favor of BB&T on its counterclaim against the Nicholses and to determine the damages to be awarded on the counterclaim. View "Branch Banking & Trust Company v. Nichols" on Justia Law

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Sergio Acosta petitioned for a writ of mandamus to direct the circuit court to vacate an order granting a motion filed by Trinity Bank to strike Acosta's jury demand with respect to all counts in Acosta's counterclaim and third-party complaint in the bank's action against him. The bank filed filed suit seeking a judgment against Acosta for financial losses it incurred after Acosta defaulted on certain "Multipurpose Note and Security Agreement[s]" he had executed with the bank. The bank alleged that Acosta had executed two secured notes and one unsecured note, which, it said, Acosta had failed and/or refused to pay; that the bank had foreclosed on the properties pledged as collateral on the secured notes; and that proper credit had been applied to the notes. The bank sought a judgment for the balance due on the notes, plus interest, fees, costs, and attorney fees. Acosta filed a counterclaim against the bank, as well as a third-party complaint against two of its officers, alleging that he had entered into a business relationship with R&B Properties under the name of SilverPalm Properties, LLC; that loans from the bank were the principal source of funding for SilverPalm; that the financing plan was for SilverPalm to procure from the bank the funds to construct the properties, for SilverPalm to pay the interest on the notes until the properties were rented, and for SilverPalm to pay off the notes once the properties generated sufficient rental income to do so. Acosta and R&B Properties dissolved SilverPalm because of a downturn in the economy; but the bank induced that Acosta was personally liable for the notes previously secured only by SilverPalm The bank at some point advised Acosta that additional security was required to continue financing the notes, that Acosta declined to pledge additional security. The bank then called the notes due and foreclosed on the properties securing the notes. Acosta requested an accounting for the amounts claimed by the bank on the notes and the mortgages securing the notes, and he sought damages based on allegations of wantonness, breach of good faith and fair dealing, negligence, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, unjust enrichment, and promissory estoppel. The counterclaim and third-party complaint included a demand for a jury trial. In its motion to strike Acosta's jury demand, the Bank relied on a jury-waiver provision in four Assignments of Rents and Leases that Acosta had executed in consideration of the notes. The trial court initially denied the bank's motion to strike, and then granted it after reconsideration. The Supreme Court concluded that Acosta demonstrated a clear legal right to a jury trial on the claims asserted in his counterclaim and third-party complaint. As such, the Court granted the petition and directed the trial court to vacate its order striking Acosta's jury demand. View "Ex parte Sergio Acosta." on Justia Law