Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

LIBERTY NATL. BANK v. AETNA LIFE & CAS. CO.

June 24, 1983

LIBERTY NATIONAL BANK, Plaintiff,
v.
AETNA LIFE & CASUALTY COMPANY, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SAROKIN

 In this diversity action, Liberty National Bank ("the Bank"), a New Jersey corporation, seeks recovery under a Bankers Blanket Bond ("the Bond") issued by Aetna Life & Casualty Company ("Aetna"), a corporation incorporated under the laws of the State of Connecticut. In 1976 the Bank made a demand loan in the amount of $112,000 to Edward M. Vaughn and a similar loan in the amount of $112,00 to his mother, Ruth D. Martin. The loans were secured by certificates of deposit ("the CDs") purportedly issued by the National Bank of Commerce, LTD., ("NBC"), an entity which had been chartered as a bank in St. Vincent, British West Indies, but which had no assets. The loans were never repaid and the CDs proved to be worthless.

 The Bank made a timely claim of loss to Aetna which denied coverage. The Bank instituted an action in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Bergen County, which was removed to this court on August 2, 1978. The jurisdiction of the court arises pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332, 1441, 1446. The action was stayed pending final disposition of a separate state court action by the Bank against Mr. Vaughn and Mrs. Martin on the demand notes. After entry of final judgment in the state court action, the matter was reinstated. A related federal criminal action against Mr. Vaughn for fraudulently misrepresenting the value of securities in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1014 resulted in a guilty verdict, which has been affirmed by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

 Section 2(e) of the Bond provides in pertinent part:

 
Section 2. THIS BOND DOES NOT COVER:
 
. . .
 
(e) loss resulting from the complete or partial nonpayment of, or default upon,
 
(1) any loan, or transaction in the nature of, or amounting to, a loan made by or obtained from the Insured . . .
 
whether procured in good faith or through trick, artifice, fraud or false pretenses unless such loss is covered under Insuring Agreement (A), (D) or (E); . . .

 (See Exhibit A to Affidavit of Donald Simpson dated November 19, 1982, hereafter "Simpson Affidavit"). The parties do not dispute that this loan exclusion clause is generally applicable to these transactions. The issue is whether the Bank can prove its right to recover under one of the enumerated Insuring Agreements.

 The Bank now moves for partial summary judgment with regard to its right to recover under Insuring Agreements D and E; Aetna has cross-moved for partial summary judgment to deny recovery to the Bank under Insuring Agreement A.

 Although many of the facts in the complicated chain of events that ended with the Bank's loss have not been clearly established, the following summary will suffice for the purposes of these motions. In June 1976, a South Carolina businessman named Raymond Starns was interested in finding a partner to finance the acquisition of certain businesses. Through a series of intermediaries, including an attorney, Donald Jones, and a Florida businessman, Richard Holtzman, Mr. Starns was introduced to Mr. Vaughn. On June 30, 1976, a charter for NBC was filed in St. Vincent. Mr. Starns was involved in the creation of this entity and persuaded a St. Vincent resident, Fitzroy Clarke, to act as president of the new entity. At that time, NBC had no assets, no depositors, no offices, no employees and no telephones.

 At a meeting in Florida sometime in June 1976, at which Jones, Starns, Holtzman and others were present, Starns subscribed Clarke's name to a group of CDs on which the name of NBC was printed. It is disputed whether this meeting occurred before or after June 30, or whether Starns had Clarke's authorization to use Clarke's name. At a second meeting in July, Starns also signed Clarke's name to a second set of CDs. It was agreed at that meeting that the CDs would be given to Vaughn in order for Vaughn to "beef up" his financial statements and increase his line of credit.

 Sometime early in August, Holtzman brought the CDs to Vaughn in New Jersey. During a meeting attended by Vaughn, Holtzman and others, Vaughn used a check-writing machine to fill in the names of the payees, amounts and maturities on certain CDs bearing Clarke's name.

 The CDs, in denominations of $50,000 and $75,000, were made payable to Vaughn, one of his business associates and various members of his family. On August 26, 1976, Vaughn procured a loan from the Bank in the amount of $112,500 secured by two such CDs in the amount of $50,000 and $75,000. He induced his mother to obtain a similar loan in the amount of $112,000 on September 1. The loans were called by the Bank in mid-September. *fn1"

 Vaughn and Martin received the proceeds of these loans with deductions made for outstanding loans. Some of the proceeds were channeled to Holtzman and Starns. In mid-September 1976 a small office in the name of NBC was opened in St. Vincent and a single employee engaged. At approximately the same time, Clarke executed a written power of attorney authorizing Starns to sign Clarke's name to papers acknowledging the collateral assignment of the CDs to the Bank.

 In order to prevail on a motion for summary judgment, the moving party must demonstrate that (1) there are no genuine issues of material fact which must be resolved by a factfinder and (2) the undisputed facts establish the moving party's right to recover under the relevant law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56; Goodman v. Mead Johnson & Co., 534 F.2d 566, 573 (3d Cir. 1976), cert. denied, 429 U.S. 1038, 50 L. Ed. 2d 748, 97 S. Ct. 732 (1977).

 After a review of the record, the court has concluded that Aetna's motion for summary judgment must be denied because material issues of fact remain to be resolved in connection with the Bank's right to recover under Insuring Agreement A. The court has further concluded, however, that it will grant, on its own motion, summary judgment to Aetna with regard to the right of the Bank to recover under either Insuring Agreements D or E, on the ground that even if certain remaining issues of fact were resolved in the Bank's favor, the Bank could not establish its right to recover under these Agreements. Accordingly, the Bank's motions are denied. See DeFelice v. Philadelphia Board of Education, 306 F. Supp. 1345 (E.D. Pa. 1969), aff'd per curiam, 432 F.2d 1358 (3d Cir. 1970); 6 Moore's Federal Practice para. 56.12 (1982).

 Although the reasoning underlying these conclusions is set forth in detail hereafter, the analysis of the court may be briefly summarized. If the plain language rule applied to this type of bond, the coverage could be simply stated as follows:

 The bond insures that the documents submitted to the bank in connection with a loan are genuine and authentic. If they are not, and a loss is caused thereby, the bonding company guarantee the loss. On the other hand, the bonding company does not guarantee the truth of said documents. If ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.