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Story v. Republic Bank

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

April 1, 2014

PEARLINA STORY, Plaintiff,
v.
REPUBLIC BANK, a/k/a REPUBLIC FIRST BANK, Defendant

Page 484

PEARLINA S. STORY, Plaintiff, Pro se, Wilkinsburg, PA.

For REPUBLIC BANK, also known as REPUBLIC FIRST BANK, Defendant: Jerry R. DeSiderato, LEAD ATTORNEY, Dilworth Paxson LLP, Cherry Hill, NJ.

OPINION

Page 485

OPINION AND ORDER

Maurice B. Cohill, Jr., Senior United States District Court Judge

Plaintiff Pearlina Story (" Ms. Story" ), a resident of Wilkinsburg, in the Western District of Pennsylvania, filed a Complaint against Defendant Republic First Bank (" Republic Bank" ), a Pennsylvania chartered bank with its principal place of business in Philadelphia, wherein she claims that Republic Bank is liable to her based upon the following: (1) Republic Bank unlawfully initiated wire transfers; (2) Republic Bank unlawfully charged stop-payment and return fees; (3) Republic Bank failed to keep accurate account of Plaintiff's accounts; (4) Republic Bank unlawfully took Plaintiff's funds without authorization; and (5) Republic Bank discriminated against Plaintiff by denying Plaintiff a secured loan in the amount of $50,000.

In response, Defendant filed a " Motion to Transfer Plaintiff's Complaint Pursuant to F.R.C.P. 12(b)(3) and 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a)," arguing that this Court is an improper venue for the litigation and that it is in the interest of justice to transfer this case to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Defendant also filed a brief in support of its Motion and attached the Affidavit of Tracie Young, the Chief Risk Officer of Republic Bank. Ms. Story then filed a brief in opposition to the motion, the Defendant filed a reply brief, and Plaintiff filed a sur-reply brief. For the reasons that follow we will grant Defendant's " Motion to Transfer Plaintiff's Complaint Pursuant to F.R.C.P. 12(b)(3) and 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a)" and transfer this case to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

I. Plaintiff's Allegations.

The following factual allegations are taken from the Plaintiff's Complaint: The Plaintiff, Pearlina Story, is a resident of Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania. Complaint, ¶ 2. The defendant, Republic Bank, is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Id. at ¶ 3. Mary Gethers (" Ms. Gethers" ) is a CRS/Teller at Republic Bank and was responsible for the initial opening of Plaintiff's banking accounts with Defendant Republic Bank. Id. at ¶ 4. Robert Opferman (" Mr. Opferman" ) is Vice President of Republic Bank and is responsible for the operation of client accounts at said bank. Id. at ¶ 5.

Ms. Story, escorted by her Attorney Robert Thomas, went to Republic on May 7, 2010, to cash a check written by Duffy & Partners Law Firm in the amount of $405,766.89. Id. at ¶ 6. Ms. Gethers took the check and told Ms. Story that she could not cash the check even though the check was from Republic Bank and that the check had to be deposited. Ms. Story then deposited the check. Id. at ¶ 8.

Page 486

The accounts were divided into savings, checking, money market and a CD. The accounts were as follows: $100,766.89 Savings #4258789, $200,000 Money Market Checking #1183753, $100.00 Checking #1183761, and $50,000 CD. Id. at ¶ 9. The checking account, which opened on May 7, 2010, did not show an initial deposit until May 10, 2010 via telephone transfer. The accounts totaled $350,866.89. Id. at ¶ 9.

Ms. Story received three cashier's checks after the initial deposit. Two checks were for $10,000.00 each and one check was for $15,000.00. She also received $20,000.00 cash. It was not until March 20, 2013 that Ms. Story noticed $4,900.00 was missing from her initial deposit with Ms. Gethers. Id. at ¶ 10.

Plaintiff also applied for a secure loan for $50,000.00, which was denied. Id. at ¶ 11.

Plaintiff tried to use the bank's online banking service and the computer went out and not knowing if any checks were accepted, Plaintiff decided to stop payments and she was charged for stop payment. For example, a stop payment was put on Stewardship Fund LP for $20,000 but Republic Bank paid Stewardship and charged Plaintiff for the stop payment. Id. at ¶ 12.

Plaintiff could not cash checks, when deposited into her account with A-K Valley Federal Credit Union, most of the checks were rejected and Plaintiff had to pay for return fees. Plaintiff had to go to Philadelphia to withdraw funds. Id. at ¶ 13.

Ms. Story noticed that a lot of wire transfers existed without her permission and complained to Republic Bank. Plaintiff was told to get in touch with the party taking money from the account. An example of this occurring was on July 20, 2010 $2000 was wired transferred to Republic Bank and on July 16, 2010, $1000.00 was wired from AK Valley FCU, but there is no statement of deposit. Id. at ¶ 14.

Ms. Story asked Republic Bank to close the accounts and was told she would have to come to Philadelphia to close her accounts. After continuing to complain, and complaining about money being missing from an account, and after Plaintiff spoke to Dan Doughty Jr., on September 29, 2010, who told Plaintiff to send a notarized statement, on October 1, 2010 the accounts were closed without a notarized statement. Id. at ¶ 15. Republic Bank then sent Ms. Story two checks, one for $5.09 and one for $0.24. Ms. Story cashed only one check. Id. at ¶ 16.

Ms. Story was told by the FDIC in July 2011, to meet with Mr. Opferman after the investigation to go over the bank accounts. She met with him and his assistants in Philadelphia and she understood she would be provided with an excel sheet and then they would meet again to go over the wire transfers and missing money. She reviewed the excel sheet and called Mr. Opferman. She was told to talk to his attorney. Id. at ¶ 17.

II. Legal Analysis.

A. Proper or Improper Venue.


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