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Valley Bank of Ronan v. Hughes

Supreme Court of Montana
147 P.3d 185 (2006)


Facts

Charles Hughes (defendant), the victim of a scam, deposited two official checks and two personal checks totaling more than $1,000,000 into Hughes’s accounts at Valley Bank of Ronan (Valley Bank) (plaintiff). Hughes asked Valley Bank to verify the validity of the official checks before depositing the checks. A Valley Bank official told Hughes that the official checks were just like cashier’s checks and did not need to be verified. The checks were deposited, and Valley Bank, at Hughes’s request, wired $800,000 to a foreign account. Those funds were withdrawn and were never recovered. When Valley Bank later discovered that the checks were counterfeit, Valley Bank exercised its right to charge back Hughes’s account for the $800,000. Hughes deposited a portion of this amount with Valley Bank and executed a secured promissory note for the remainder. Hughes failed to pay the promissory note, and Valley Bank brought a foreclosure action against Hughes. Hughes counterclaimed, asserting negligent misrepresentation based on Valley Bank’s statements about its check-settlement process, and various other common-law and equitable claims. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Valley Bank, finding that Valley Bank had not violated its duty of ordinary care under the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) in processing the checks. Hughes appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Rice, J.)

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