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Jul 27 2013

Bank refuses to compensate victim of horrendous mistake

We finally got some much needed rain here in Central Texas last night. Hopefully more will follow today. The storm that came through knocked out my cable for hours, but now it’s back up. And having signed in, I find the era of corporate malfeasance continues unabated. Check this gem out:

Via Balloon Juice — A message from Tony Thorne regarding current news stories about our bank — The First National Bank of Wellston is a 127-year-old locally owned independent bank serving Jackson and Vinton Counties in Ohio. With two banking offices and 36 employees, our mission is to serve the banking needs of the people and businesses in our local communities. On June 18, 2013, two representatives of the First National Bank of Wellston were assigned to clean and refurbish a bank-owned residential property. Regrettably, the GPS locator they used to find the property led them to the wrong home, which was located on the same street as the target property (we have since retraced their route using the same GPS, and it again took us to the same wrong location). As we discovered later, the property to which they were directed actually belonged to another individual.

Oh, OK, it was the GPS’s fault … Bottom line is they cleaned out the wrong property. The owner — who was more than up to date on her mortgage with a different bank entirely — was on vacation and came home to find her home had been ransacked, everything gone. So, everyone agrees the banked fucked up massively including the bank president. That’s where it gets nauseating:

In addition, we communicated to the homeowner our desire to compensate her fairly and equitably for her inconvenience and loss. However, the written list of items that she provided to us –and the value she assigned to those items– is inconsistent with the list and descriptions of items removed that was prepared by the employees who did the work, and with the list and values of missing items provided by the homeowner herself as recorded in an earlier telephone conversation with one of our representatives.

So they lawyered up and refused to talk further. Fellas, let me explain this to you in the event any of the lawyers you loaded up on haven’t yet: when you fuck up that massively, you’re probably going to have to take at least a small loss and maybe a big one, be glad you’re not under investigation or out on bail for burglary, because that’s exactly what could have happened. Compensate means pay her what it takes to make her go away, in this case you’re lucky, the sum she requested is merely $18,000.

And the reason you should have accepted that, no questions asked, is because 1) it’s tiny and within reason, and 2) if this lady gets in front of a jury of her peers with this case, you are going to flam-bayed, financially, and with the full weight of local public-community contempt which you rely on for business heaped on top of you.

26 comments

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  1. 1
    machintelligence

    The bank apparently wants receipts too, the very same receipts that they trashed when they cleared out the house. As for taking the word of the employees as to what was removed: they couldn’t even find the right house!
    For a longer and fun discussion of this see the Popehat blog.
    http://www.popehat.com/2013/07/26/want-to-burglarize-a-house-with-impunity-then-nickle-and-dime-the-restitution-it-helps-to-be-a-bank/

  2. 2
    Ace of Sevens

    So it’s suspicious that she couldn’t instantly produce a list of all the items in her house from memory?

  3. 3
    DaveL

    I think a judge should clear this up with five simple words:

    “Very well, prison it is!”

  4. 4
    Physicalist

    She should hire this guy to foreclose on the bank:

    When the bank didn’t pay, their lawyer, Todd Allen, showed up at a local bank branch last week with sheriff’s deputies and a moving truck to begin cleaning out the building. ” (NYT)

  5. 5
    Al Dente

    She wanted $18K and the bank is quibbling about that. I wonder how much a jury would award her. I suspect it’d be a whole lot more than $18K.

  6. 6
    blf

    Physicalist@4, Your link is borked.
    I think you tried to link to this, Angry Homeowners ‘Foreclose’ on Lenders.

  7. 7
    Trebuchet

    @#1: Dang. I’m currently (for no reason) banned at Popehat. That means I’ll have to turn off the WiFi on my phone to read it. Time to send Ken White another e-mail.

    I suspect the bank in question is about to learn the meaning of the term “Streisand Effect” in a very big way.

    I also think criminal charges would be altogether appropriate.

  8. 8
    grumpyoldfart

    I wonder if the bank manager’s name is Zimmerman?

    (Even if it’s not, I still think he’s pretty safe)

  9. 9
    Ysidro

    This sort of thing seems to happen surprisingly often. And the bank will probably get away with it. At the worst, they might pay out. No one will go to jail or be threatened with it. Banks get to be corporations which get to be people except when they’re not! It’s win win! Unless you’re an actual human person, that is.

  10. 10
    Woof

    These idiots couldn’t read a friggin street address on a house?

  11. 11
    Al Dente

    Nobody from the bank is likely to go to jail. However a good lawyer should be able to get the victim a whole lot more than a measly $18,000.

  12. 12
    Neil Rickert

    Incredible.

    If I were on a jury, I could easily be persuaded to vote for 1 million in punitive damages, and a lot more than $18,000 for pain and suffering.

  13. 13
    Starmom

    Two days after my mom’s house burned down, she and my sister and I sat down with three very nice gals from the insurance company for an entire afternoon to make up a list of all she lost. Even with multiple mental walk-throughs, coaching from the experts and checking each others’ lists, we missed stuff. There’s no way a “list and values of missing items provided by the homeowner herself as recorded in an earlier telephone conversation” is going to be anywhere comprehensive or accurate.

    I’m assuming the shock of coming home to an unexpectedly empty house is as bad or worse than watching the house burn. We at least knew stuff was gone, and my sister and I had photos to look at.

  14. 14
    sillose

    does ohio have the death penalty? because this is what its for.
    i know a bank will never see justice done, but its a wonderful fantasy i would like to maintain.

  15. 15
    sillose

    to be clear, i think the thieves should spend some time in prison. i think the bastard who refused to pay should get a hell of a lot more than a few months in prison.

  16. 16
    Trebuchet

    So I did get over to Popehat. Now I’m sorry I did, waaay to much “this wouldn’t happen if we had a Libertarian government” in the comments.

    I wonder if the bank president has yet realized that perhaps the reason the list from the homeowner doesn’t match the list from the clowns he sent in because they helped themselves to the good stuff? Which they are no doubt frantically trying to get rid of for the past couple of days.

  17. 17
    Tsu Dho Nimh

    Were there no address numbers on the house?

  18. 18
    culuriel

    This bank is full of cr@p, and $18k is getting off light. The belongings in my studio apartment are insured for $35k. If these chowderheads emptied an actual house of belongings, the bank should easily be on the hook for $50k.

  19. 19
    Trebuchet

    Were there no address numbers on the house?

    Yes, or at least on the mailbox at the street in front. As well as on the mailbox across the street at the correct house.

  20. 20
    brianwestley

    The inverse of this old Taxi episode

  21. 21
    gshelley

    The bank’s statement is a little odd, they claim the house was almost empty, but they should probably have considered that $18000 is not much to have to pay when they screw up like this.

  22. 22
    vilstef

    Whether this goes before a Judge or a Jury, there sure be huge punitive damages for their asshat behavior after the major screwup. 18K was a bargain and they were too dumb to recognize it. Makes one wonder about all their business practices, doesn’t it?

  23. 23
    Pierce R. Butler

    Good news: the bank’s “representatives” have already found new jobs – as DEA strike force agents.

  24. 24
    sqlrob

    So I did get over to Popehat. Now I’m sorry I did, waaay to much “this wouldn’t happen if we had a Libertarian government” in the comments.

    Wait, what? Letting corporations be stronger will prevent abuse of strength by corporations? Huh?

  25. 25
    Trebuchet

    Wait, what? Letting corporations be stronger will prevent abuse of strength by corporations? Huh?

    You’re expecting logic from libertarians? I love Ken’s legal stories at Popehat. The libertarian bent of some of the other bloggers and commenters not so much.

    I’m surprised to see that the bank didn’t back down yesterday. I suspect that as banks go, it’s a very small one and likely on shaky financial ground. Probably getting smaller and shakier every day they don’t settle up.

  26. 26
    Strewth

    To those wondering how the wrong house could be chosen – I used to work for a lawn care company. Our staff would sometimes service the wrong lawn. It was rare, but it did happen. Sometimes it was because two streets intersected and had super similar names – xxx road and xxx blvd, or something. Other times it was pure sloppiness. Regardless, we were always prompt to eat the cost entirely, and we were prepared to compensate for damages. (ie: if someone was for some reason growing wildflowers in their lawn that our technicians treated as weeds). Something like this you make right _immediately_, if you value your public reputation at all.

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