News Brief

Despotakis and Alexander Successfully Defend a National Financial Institution

April 17, 2013

Constantine Despotakis (Partner-White Plains) and Maryan Alexander (Associate-Baltimore) successfully defended a national financial institution against a plaintiff, a local Baltimore attorney.  The case was venued in the District Court of Baltimore County.

The plaintiff alleged that the bank negligently paid a settlement draft issued by the co-defendant insurance company to his former client.  The check listed the plaintiff and his former client as payees in a stacked format without any conjunctive separating the two payees. The plaintiff’s former client negotiated the check at the bank without the plaintiff’s endorsement and deprived the plaintiff of his share of the monies, which represented his attorney’s fees.  Wilson Elser argued that, where the payees are listed in a stacked format without any conjunctive that indicates that the draft is jointly payable, Maryland Commercial Law and case law interpreting the applicable statutes, treats the draft as payable alternatively with the single endorsement of either payee.  The plaintiff argued that his claim fell outside of the Maryland Commercial Law Article and that he was seeking economic damages based purely on a negligence claim. Wilson Elser rebutted that, in order to impose tort liability, the plaintiff must show an intimate nexus between the parties and that, because the plaintiff shared no contractual privity or its equivalent with the defendant, his claims must fail.  The Court agreed and entered a judgment in favor of the defendant.

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