Gaulkin, Lewis and Kolovsky. The opinion of the court was delivered by Gaulkin, S.j.a.d.
Plaintiff sued defendant bank for monies charged against plaintiff's accounts upon forged checks. The trial court granted summary judgment, holding that the action was barred by N.J.S. 17:9A-229.3. Plaintiff appeals.
Plaintiff maintained two accounts in defendant bank, one identified as the "dormant" account and the other as the "payroll" account. Plaintiff's bookkeeper forged checks totaling $62,476.37 on the dormant account and endorsements on checks totaling $2,713.87 on the payroll account, and cashed the checks. Plaintiff learned of the forgeries (but not the extent thereof) when its president checked the bank's June 1964 statement of the dormant account and found therein 27 checks to which his name had been forged. On June 10, 1964 he went to the bank with plaintiff's attorney and accountant and informed it of the 27 forged checks. At the request of an officer of the bank he wrote his name three times on a sheet of paper for purposes of comparison.
On July 15, 1964 plaintiff's attorney wrote the bank that Duralite had discovered that the bookkeeper had "forged endorsements on ten pay checks * * *. The checks were on Account No. 4-87-498-7, the payroll account of Duralite * * *." His letter made no mention of the forgeries upon the dormant account.
This action was begun on September 2, 1965. N.J.S. 17:9A-229.1 through 229.3 provide as follows:
"17:9A-229.1 Accounting by banking institution to depositor
When a banking institution renders or has rendered to a depositor a statement of account, accompanied by vouchers, if any, which are the basis for debit entries in such account, or when a banking institution writes-up or has written-up a depositor's passbook to show the credits to and debits against the account, and delivers or has delivered such passbook to the depositor, with the vouchers, if any, which are the basis for the debit entries in such account, such acts shall constitute an accounting by the banking institution to the depositor.
17:9A-229.2 Conclusive presumption of correctness of accounting
Such accounting shall, after July first, one thousand nine hundred and fifty-three, or after six years from its rendition, whichever shall be the later, be conclusively presumed to be correct, and the depositor, and all those claiming through or under him, shall thereafter be barred from questioning the correctness thereof for any cause, in all courts and places, unless, before the expiration of the said six-year period, or before July first, one thousand nine hundred and fifty-three, whichever shall be the later, the depositor, or someone claiming through or under him, gives written notice to the banking institution questioning the correctness of such accounting.
17:9A-229.3 Conclusive presumption of correctness of accounting when notice given to bank questioning correctness
When written notice is given to a banking institution as provided by section two of this act [229.2], the accounting shall, after the lapse of one year from the date such notice is given, be conclusively presumed to be correct, and the depositor, and all those claiming through or under him, shall thereafter be barred from questioning the correctness thereof for any cause, in all courts and places, unless, within the said one-year period, an action is begun by the depositor, or by someone claiming through or under him, in which the correctness of the account may be determined."
Plaintiff argues that when this statute was passed (L. 1951, c. 166) it was not meant to ...