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Auto-Owners Insurance Co. v. Bank One

Supreme Court of Indiana
879 N.E.2d 1086 (2008)


Kenneth Wulf worked for Auto-Owners Insurance Company (Auto-Owners) (plaintiff). Wulf was responsible for maintaining files and collecting checks that Auto-Owners received for subrogation and salvage claims. Wulf opened a checking account at Bank One (defendant) in the name of “Auto-Owners, Kenneth B. Wulf.” Bank One did not request any documentation to confirm Wulf’s authorization to open or use the account on Auto-Owners’ behalf. Over the course of nearly eight years, Wulf deposited $546,000 meant for Auto-Owners into this account without Auto-Owners’ knowledge. Upon discovering Wulf’s fraud, Auto-Owners sued Bank One, arguing that Bank One had failed to exercise ordinary care in opening Wulf’s account and that this failure had substantially contributed to Auto-Owners’ losses. Auto-Owners presented evidence that the prevailing industry standard for opening a business checking account required proof of identity or authority. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Bank One, and the court of appeals affirmed. Auto-Owners appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Sullivan, J.)

Dissent (Boehm, J.)

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