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Bank of Texas v. VR Electric, Inc.

Texas Court of Appeals
276 S.W.3d 671 (2008)


A bookkeeper for VR Electric, Inc. (VR) (plaintiff) left an unsigned check on the front counter in VR’s office for Terry Viohl, VR’s president, to sign. The same day, an outside contractor’s employee, Anthony Burlew, took the check from the office and endorsed it to himself by signing Viohl’s name. Burlew subsequently endorsed the check to Frank Mata (defendant), a car dealer. Mata deposited the check into his own account. The Bank of Texas (Bank) (defendant), with whom VR had its checking account, processed and paid the check through an automated Federal Reserve system without authenticating the signature. When VR learned that the check had been cashed, VR requested the return of the funds to its account and notified the Bank of the forgery. The Bank refused to credit VR’s account. VR filed suit against the Bank and Mata. At trial, one Bank employee testified that the Bank had a verbal policy whereby signatures processed through the automated system were not manually verified for checks less than $100,000. Another employee testified that the threshold verification amount was $250,000. The jury found that the Bank had acted in good faith but that the occurrence was caused by the negligence of all three parties. VR moved to disregard the jury’s finding that the Bank acted in good faith. The trial court granted VR’s motion. The Bank moved to disregard the jury’s finding that the Bank’s negligence was a contributing factor. The trial court denied the Bank’s motion and awarded VR damages for the amount of the check. The Bank appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Alcala, C.J.)

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