On appeal from Superior Court, Law Division, Hudson County.
J.h. Coleman and Thomas. The opinion of the court was delivered by Coleman, P.J.A.D.
This is an appeal by plaintiff from a summary judgment dismissing Count Ten of its Verified Complaint which asserted claims of negligence and breach of warranty against defendant First Fidelity Bank, N.A. (defendant), in connection with its conduct as collecting bank on six checks.
Plaintiff was the drawer and drawee of all checks involved as well as the employer of Estela Tardy who worked in the loan department. She fraudulently induced plaintiff bank to issue six checks involved in this appeal, some of which named customers of plaintiff as the payee.
Check number 9724, dated July 29, 1988, was payable to Walter H. Freier, in the amount of $250,000. Freier had applied for a loan from plaintiff. Estela prepared the loan check, received the appropriate signatures, then gave it to her husband Alphonso Tardy for negotiation. Alphonso forged Freier's endorsement and deposited the check into an account he had opened at defendant bank in his name, trading as Plaza Investments.
Check number 9902, dated January 5, 1989, was made payable to Dominick Orichhio, a customer of plaintiff. Estela originally made the check out for $40,000, representing a loan that was due
to Orichhio from the bank, and left blank the portion of the check where the amount was to be written by the check imprinter. After she secured the necessary signatures from the bank officers, Estela changed the amount to $400,000. Estela forged Orichhio's endorsement and Alphonso deposited the check into his account at defendant bank.
Check number 9905, dated January 12, 1989, was originally made payable to the Division of Motor Vehicles for $50. After obtaining the necessary signatures, even though the check amount line was blank, Estela raised the amount of the check to $500,000, erased the name of the payee, and inserted Plaza Investments as payee. Alphonso endorsed the check and deposited it into his account at defendant bank.
Check number 9911, dated January 30, 1989, was made payable to Charles Frankies Corp., in the amount of $250,000. It was originally made payable to the Division of Motor Vehicles for a much smaller amount, but Estela erased the payee and changed the amount after signatures had been obtained. Alphonso endorsed the check, and deposited it into his account at defendant bank. There is no explanation why plaintiff was sending checks numbered 9911 or 9905 to the Division of Motor Vehicles. In an affidavit submitted in opposition to the summary judgment motion, Thomas S. Bingham, Senior Vice President and Treasurer of plaintiff, states that the alterations of the payee lines on the "Motor Vehicle" checks were visible.
Check number 9914, dated February 7, 1989, was made payable to Delores Stroug, a customer of the bank who had made an overpayment to the bank on a loan. The check was for $840. After the signatures of two bank officers were obtained, while the second line for the amount to be written in words was blank, Estela raised the amount to $205,840. The payee's name was changed to "Plaza Investments" by Alphonso, who endorsed it and deposited it into the same account at defendant.
The final check, number 9923, dated March 3, 1989, was made payable to Maria M. Sabtuccio, who was a ...