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Barrer v. Women’s National Bank

United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
761 F.2d 752 (D.C. Cir. 1985)


The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) sold Lester Barrer’s (plaintiff) home at a tax sale because Barrer had not paid his taxes. The IRS provided for a 120 day period within which Barrer could redeem the house. Barrer contacted Women’s National Bank (WNB) (defendant) about obtaining a loan to redeem the house. Barrer had a professional acquaintance with WNB’s president, Emily Womack. Barrer told Womack of his financial difficulties, generally, but did not give specifics, including failing to tell Womack: (1) that he was six months delinquent in his mortgage payments—Barrer testified that he told Womack that he “thought” he was two months behind, but Womack testified that Barrer told her that he was current, (2) that his mortgage bank (Columbia) had begun the process of foreclosure—although it was not clear that Barrer knew of the foreclosure, (3) that he had an additional contingent liability of $11,000 to the IRS—although Barrer claimed that some of this liability was included in the amount he already owed the IRS, (4) that he had a separate debt of $5300 in his late wife’s name, and (5) that he owed $1500 in pending judgments against him—Barrer did, however, disclose that he was a defendant in lawsuits. Regardless of these financial difficulties, however, Womack seemed to have sympathy for Barrer’s financial situation and approved his loan without running Barrer’s credit or contacting Columbia about his mortgage. At this point, the buyer of Barrer’s house in the tax sale informed WNB of the specifics of Barrer’s financial woes. On this information, WNB rescinded the loan. Barrer brought suit against WNB. A district court magistrate awarded WNB summary judgment, finding that Barrer failed to disclose the five facts outlined above, and that those facts were material. Barrer appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Edwards, J.)

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