Wells Fargo Bank wants man's suit sent to arbitration

By Christina Stueve Hodges | Aug 22, 2013

Wells Fargo Bank is asking St. Clair County Circuit Judge Vincent Lopinot to send a Florida man’s lawsuit against it to arbitration.

On June 13, Jermaine Johnson filed a complaint against First Collinsville Bank and Wells Fargo, alleging they illegally obtained more than $3,000 from his bank account to satisfy a portion of the more than $80,000 he owed them.

He claims that Collinsville Bank improperly issued and served an Illinois garnishment on Wells Fargo in Florida and that Wells Fargo acted in concert with the Collinsville bank by withholding funds held in his bank accounts.

In its Aug. 15 motion to dismiss, Wells Fargo asserts that the plaintiff opened an account governed by a consumer account agreement, which provides that Florida law applies to the bank accounts and any “dispute” between the plaintiff and Wells Fargo “will be resolved through the arbitration process.”

First Collinsville Bank filed a motion to dismiss July 12, arguing that a plaintiff can only plead and be awarded attorneys’ fees if attorneys’ fees are allowable under statute or contract.

In his complaint, Johnson contends he owed First Collinsville Bank more than $80,000 as part of a mortgage foreclosure case.

To partially satisfy payment of the debt, the Collinsville bank issued a garnishment summons, which the complaint states would have required any money held by Johnson to be applied toward the $80,000 settlement in the mortgage foreclosure.

First Collinsville Bank had the summons served May 24 on Wells Fargo Bank in Florida and in turn, a Wells Fargo process server withdrew $3,590.39 from Johnson’s two accounts, according to the suit.

Johnson claims the move was illegal because First Collinsville issued the summons across state lines.

Shortly after the Collinsville bank's garnishment, Johnson claims he visited Wells Fargo to withdraw the money from his accounts, but was not allowed to do so.

David M. Duree of David M. Duree and Associates in O’Fallon represents the plaintiff.

Kevin J. Stine of Mathis, Marifian & Richter in Belleville represents First Collinsville Bank.

Brian W. Hockett of St. Louis represents Wells Fargo.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 13-L-295.

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