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Taylor v. Nationsbank, NA

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How upset would you be if your paycheck was accidentally deposited into someone else's account? If you are a banker and that happens to one of your customers, your natural inclination is to want to try to help. As this case shows, however, it's important to not harm one customer while trying to help another.

Garfield Taylor and Walter Scott worked for Fannie Mae and signed up for direct deposit of their paychecks. Scott's pay stub showed an account number that wasn't his. He checked with his bank and learned that his pay had not been received. In talking with a representative of his bank, he learned the number on his stub was an actual account number that belonged to someone else, his direct deposit had been erroneously sent to that account, and since it was Saturday, the bank couldn't correct the error until Monday. Scott discussed with the bank employee what steps he could take to protect himself and retrieve the funds. In the course of that conversation, the bank employee revealed l) who owned the account the funds had been deposited into; and the unlisted phone number for that individual (Garfield Taylor). The banker suggested Scott call Taylor and discuss the situation. Scott made the call. The bank got sued, alleging that, as a “private person by nature” the ensuing unexpected conversation “caused him a great deal of mental anguish and mental pain, and a severe shock to his nervous system,” the petitioner filed suit against the bank. The trial court granted summary judgment for the bank. The appellate court reversed, holding the summary judgment was improper because the bank's voluntary disclosure of the depositor's name and unlisted telephone number, which identified that depositor's checking account number to another depositor, constituted a violation of both the depositor's contract with the banking institution and the common law, and there was therefore a genuine dispute as to material facts.

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