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Powers v. American Express Financial Advisors, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
238 F.3d 414 (2000)


Facts

Amy Powers (plaintiff) and Michael D’Ambrosia had a joint investment account with American Express Financial Advisors, Inc. (American Express) (defendant) that was funded primarily from D’Ambrosia’s earnings. Powers and D’Ambrosia’s investment application with American Express required the signatures of both investors for any redemption request above $50,000. When Powers and D’Ambrosia later broke up, they asked American Express to freeze the joint investment account. Later, in a letter dated September 26, 1997, D’Ambrosia and Powers authorized a release of the freeze and instructed American Express to transfer the funds in the joint investment account to a Prudential Securities account. In a memo dated October 16, 1997, D’Ambrosia alone signed and sent instructions to American Express by fax to transfer all of the funds in the joint investment account to a joint bank account held by Powers and D’Ambrosia at FCNB Bank. American Express followed the instructions in the October 16 fax and wired $86,836.79 to the joint FCNB account. D’Ambrosia withdrew this money and absconded. Powers sued American Express to recover the money, claiming that American Express had violated section 8-507(b) of the Maryland Commercial Code. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Powers and awarded her damages of $86,836.79, with prejudgment interest. American Express appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

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