Friday, October 21, 2016

Defrauded Church's Conversion Claim Against Bank Is Dismissed

In Mt. Hope Universal Baptist Church, Inc. v. Bowen, (NY Kings Cty. Sup. Ct., Oct. 14, 2016), a New York state trial court dismissed a conversion claim brought by a church that was defrauded out of the proceeds of a life insurance policy.  In 1976, Rosetta Goodridge was the founding member of Mt. Hope Baptist Church.  She died in 2009, leaving a life insurance policy that named the church as beneficiary.  Goodridge's daughters and granddaughters fraudulently opened a bank account at Citibank in the name of Mt. Hope.  They then filed a claim with the insurance company and received the proceeds of the policy.  Among other claims, the church sued Citibank for conversion.  The court dismissed the action, holding that because Mt. Hope never had actual or constructive possession of the check, it had no cause of action for conversion. The court also held that the insurance company does not have a valid claim against Citibank for contribution.