The opinion in Gonzalez v. Vantage Bank Texas, No. 04-21-00285-CV, 2022 WL 14679567 (Tex. App. – San Antonio 2022, no pet. h.), reaffirms the importance of a bank customer’s duty to timely review bank statements for errors or unauthorized transactions. Gonzalez brought claims against her bank for breach of contract and negligence, alleging that after a CD account matured, the bank improperly transferred funds from her CD account to another customer’s account. The trial court ruled in favor of the bank and awarded the bank its attorney’s fees, costs, and expenses. The trial court’s ruling was affirmed by the Fourth Court of Appeals. A copy of the opinion is attached.
Gonzalez alleged that over $1.3 million was improperly transferred from a certificate of deposit in her name at the bank to an account owned by her long-time friend. The transfer occurred more than 11 years before the lawsuit was filed. Gonzalez claimed that she thought the funds had been transferred into her account, but never saw a statement confirming that. Gonzalez further alleged that she did not review her bank statements and did not review other statements for the account that received the funds. The bank asserted a number of defenses including the two and four-year statutes of limitations and section 4.406 of the Texas Business and Commerce Code. Gonzalez attempted to justify the late filing of her lawsuit by asserting the discovery rule. She argued that her claims were timely filed within the limitations period as calculated from the date she “discovered” her injury. However, for the discovery rule to apply, a plaintiff’s injury must be inherently undiscoverable, and the evidence of the injury must not be objectively verifiable. The court of appeals found that the allegedly unauthorized transaction could have easily been detected by Gonzalez with some level of diligence. Thus, the discovery rule did not apply, and plaintiff’s negligence and breach of contract causes of action were barred by their respective two and four-year statutes of limitations. The court also affirmed the trial court’s award of $38,745 for the bank’s attorney’s fees, costs, and expenses. The court held that the fees award was supported by the bank’s deposit agreement, which provided that Gonzalez would be liable for the bank’s fees in any dispute involving her account.
Please note that Pat Huttenbach and Dave Polsinelli from Crain Caton & James represented Vantage Bank Texas before the trial court and appellate court.
No information in this communication is intended to constitute specific legal advice. For specific legal advice, please contact an attorney, and if you have any such questions or would like more information about this issue, please contact William “Pat” Huttenbach at 713.752.8616, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
William “Pat” Huttenbach | Shareholder | Banking Litigation