Di Angelo v. Wells Fargo, No. 15-20520 (5th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff, daughter of Martin Schmidt, filed suit against Wells Fargo in Texas state court for negligence, promissory estoppel, and conversion. After removal to federal court, the district court granted summary judgment based on California Probate Code 13106(a), which discharges the holder of funds “from any further liability with respect to the money or property” upon receipt of an affidavit conforming to certain statutory requirements. The court concluded that, because plaintiff has failed to probate her father’s will, the only statutory claim that she may possibly have is under California’s laws of intestate succession, which give a decedent’s surviving children a share in the estate not passing to the decedent’s surviving spouse. A claim under the laws of intestacy, however, is inferior to a claim under the laws of testate succession, and it is questionable whether a claim to a percentage of an estate equates to a claim to specific assets in the estate, like the Wells Fargo bank accounts at issue here. The court also noted that plaintiff has waived any argument based on intestate succession by failing to raise the issue in the district court or in her briefs on appeal. Therefore, the court held that it is immaterial that plaintiff gave Wells Fargo actual notice or whether she reasonably and detrimentally relied on any representation by Wells Fargo’s Houston employees. The California legislative scheme grants Wells Fargo immunity from any injury that plaintiff may have suffered from the disbursement of funds to her stepmother. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment.