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Geler v. National Westminster Bank USA

United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
763 F. Supp. 722 (1991)


Facts

Benjamin Ghitelman held a $500,000 certificate of deposit (CD) issued by National Westminster Bank USA (Bank) (defendant). Ghitelman’s wife, Susana, may or may not have been a joint depositor of the CD. Funds from the CD were payable on the depositor’s death to Ida, Israel, and Yacof Geler (the Gelers) (plaintiffs), all citizens of Israel. When Benjamin died, Susana, an Israeli citizen, withdrew the funds but then returned them to the Bank on its demand. Susana later died. The Gelers sued the Bank for payment of the funds in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Counsel for Susana’s administrator informed the Bank that she would intervene in the Gelers’ action once the administrator was formally appointed. Once the appointment was made, however, the administrator filed a separate action against the Bank in a New York state court. The Bank could not remove the matter, because it held New York citizenship. The Bank responded by filing an interpleader action in the Southern District, naming the Gelers and Susana’s administrator as competing claimants to the CD funds. The Bank sought to enjoin the state court action during the pendency of the federal proceedings. The district court consolidated the actions by the Gelers and the Bank and considered the Bank’s request.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Carter, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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