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Can I sue Bank of America for cashing a check without my signature?

Little Rock, AR |

In February of this year Bank of America cashed a joint federal and state tax refund check with out my signature. (we are finalizing our divorce) The check had both my soon to be ex husbands name and my name on it. Just my ex husbands signature is on both the checks. And we do not have a joint account together at that bank . And I have copies of the cashed checks that show I did not endorse them. I called the bank they suggested I try and get it from my spouse. I do not want to include this in our divorce proceedings because it may prolong the divorce( his lawyer uses a lot of stall tactics) can I get a lawyer to write a letter to get my money from bank of America?

Attorney Answers 2


Well, the short answer is yes you can as long as the facts are correct.

Did the check say payable to "Ex-husband and Ex-wife" or "Ex-husband or Ex-wife" or Ex-husband Ex-Wife?"

If the check says the first, then the bank should not have cashed the check without your indorsement. If the check says the second, then your signature was not required. I'm not sure about the third scenario, and would have to research it.

Ark. Code Ann. 4-3-110(d) covers this: "(d) If an instrument is payable to two (2) or more persons alternatively, it is payable to any of them and may be negotiated, discharged, or enforced by any or all of them in possession of the instrument. If an instrument is payable to two (2) or more persons not alternatively, it is payable to all of them and may be negotiated, discharged, or enforced only by all of them. If an instrument payable to two (2) or more persons is ambiguous as to whether it is payable to the persons alternatively, the instrument is payable to the persons alternatively."

All that being said, these types of issues can be extremely complicated legally, so the analysis would likely not be as simple as I have presented it above if the issue became litigated.

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Arkansas' version of the Uniform Commercial Code, which controls your rights on suing a bank over violating rules on checks, has been modified to protect the banks. You have a very short time period to sue them for damages. You have longer as to the estranged/ex spouse to recover the money if you can find it. The way the check was made out and and date it was deposited will control chances of winning against the bank.

You need to contact a lawyer that has experience in what is called "commercial paper" litigation and family law.

This answer does not create a attorney client relationship and cannot be relied upon as a legal opinion as there are too many unknown facts to this matter to render an opinion at this time. Campbell & Grooms, PLLC

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