Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. National Bank of CommerceAnnotate this Case
Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. appealed a circuit court's denial of its claim for attorney fees against National Bank of Commerce ("NBC"). The claim at issue in this appeal stemmed from a lawsuit concerning the deposit of a check issued by Jennifer Champion, treasurer of Jefferson County, for $178,916.42 in settlement of claims made in Winston v. Jefferson County, a class-action lawsuit concerning excess tax bids. The check was drawn on Jefferson County's account with Wachovia Bank, N.A. (a predecessor to Wells Fargo), and it was jointly payable to the order of Carl Prewitt, Debra Prewitt, Renasant Bank, and Moore Oil Co., Inc. ("Moore Oil"). After the check was issued, it was mailed to the Prewitts, received by Debra Prewitt. The check was stamped "for deposit only," and it was deposited to an account in the name of Liberty Investing, LLC ("Liberty Investing"), at Red Mountain Bank (a predecessor to NBC), using a remote scanner that was provided by NBC's predecessor to Creative Edge Landscaping, Inc. It is undisputed that the check was deposited without endorsements and that the Prewitts were not signatories on the Liberty Investing account. Wells Fargo's predecessor paid the check and debited Jefferson County's account. The Prewitts received the proceeds of the check over time through a series of withdrawals and transfers from the Liberty Investing account. Moore Oil became aware of the check, and by a letter it demanded that Jefferson County pay Moore Oil the amount of the check because, Moore Oil contended, it was entitled to the proceeds of the check. The Alabama Supreme Court fetermined Wells Fargo's claim for reimbursement of attorney fees expended in defense of the claim brought by Moore Oil lacked support in the applicable statutory scheme. Furthermore, neither of the "special equity" rules under which Wells Fargo claimed entitlement to reimbursement of its attorney fees was applicable in this situation. Finding no reversible error as to the denial of attorney fees to Wells Fargo, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court.