Customer's counterfeit deposit leads to suit against US Bank

Steve Gonzalez Nov. 28, 2005, 5:22am

US Bank on West Main in Belleville

A Belleville man who deposited a counterfeit check into his account is suing US Bank for negligent misrepresentation.

In a suit filed in St. Clair County Circuit Court on Nov. 18, Joe Brawley claims the bank told him it would not take any action against him if a suspicious check turned out to be fraudulent--other than a $25 bad check fee.

Brawley also accuses the bank of violating the Consumer Fraud Act, Deceptive Business Practices Act and libel.

On Nov. 20, 2004, claims he talked to the bank manager, Jackie Bien, at a US Bank location on West Main Street in Belleville about the check he suspected was a product of an Internet crime.

According to Brawley, Bien told him to make the deposit anyway.

Brawley is seeking damages in excess of $100,000, plus punitive damages in excess of $50,000, attorney fees and costs of the suit.

On Nov. 24, 2004, US Bank informed Brawley that the check was counterfeit and voluntarily reported the transaction to credit reporting agencies and characterized the transaction as “irregular signature or endorsement.”

Brawley claims that the bank “forced closed” his account plus two other accounts he held at the bank.

“US Bank, through its branch manager, misrepresented a material fact to Brawley in that she misrepresented the fact that if the check turned out to be a counterfeit, US Bank would take any further action other than to recover a $25 loss for presenting a bad check,” the complaint states.

He claims he suffered financial losses and damages to his personal and business reputation--including not being able to open bank accounts elsewhere--mischaracterizations on credit history and impairment of operation of business.

Brawley also is seeking damages against the bank for libel, claiming it labeled the transaction as “irregular signature or endorsement.”

“This characterization is entirely misleading and indicated Brawley was at fault in the transaction,” the complaint states.

“The actions of US Bank constitute either a deliberate intention to harm Brawley, or an utter indifference or conscience disregard for Brawley’s rights or reputation.”

Brawley is represented by Edward McCarthy of Edwardsville.

05 L 671 (20th Circuit)

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