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Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. Comments Solutions, LLC

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

December 17, 2019

WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A., Plaintiff,
v.
COMMENTS SOLUTIONS, LLC and FIRST LEGACY COMMUNITY CREDIT UNION, Defendants.

          ADAM BUSLER, FOX ROTHSCHILD LLP, Attorneys for Plaintiff.

          DENISE E. CARLON KML LAW GROUP, PC, Attorneys for Defendant First Legacy Community Credit Union.

          OPINION

          NOEL L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.

         This action is one for interpleader relief and comes before the Court on Plaintiff's motion for interpleader deposit pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1335. For the reasons discussed below, contingent upon satisfaction of a condition-precedent, Plaintiff's motion will be granted in part; denied in part, without prejudice; and denied in part.

         BACKGROUND

         Defendant Comments Solutions LLC (“CS”) is a business entity maintaining a bank account with Plaintiff Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. (“Plaintiff” or “Wells Fargo”). (ECF No. 1 (“Comp.”) at ¶7). On June 11, 2018, CS received a wire transfer to its Wells Fargo account from Defendant First Legacy Bank (“First Legacy”) in the amount of $134, 025.30. (Comp. at ¶9). After the wire was sent, First Legacy contacted Wells Fargo to request the wire be recalled due to potential fraud, and Wells Fargo restrained the remaining proceeds in the account, some $73, 187.70, pending further investigation. See (Comp. at ¶¶10-11).

         Recognizing that a dispute now exists between CS and First Legacy regarding proper ownership of the funds at issue, on January 3, 2019, Plaintiff filed an interpleader complaint with this Court. (ECF No. 1). On March 4, 2019, First Legacy filed an answer to the complaint and also filed various cross claims against CS, and a third-party complaint against Michael Williams, an alleged co-conspirator of CS's.[1] (ECF No. 7). First Legacy alleges that Williams and CS hacked or caused someone to hack into the email account of First Legacy's Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and emailed a First Legacy employee impersonating the CEO, causing an unauthorized wire transfer to be made to CS's Wells Fargo account. (ECF No. 7 at 4, ¶1). After initiating the fraudulent transfer, First Legacy alleges that CS or Williams withdrew more than $60, 000 before Plaintiff could restrain the assets. (ECF No. 7 at 5, ¶2). Wells Fargo requested that CS permit it to remit the restrained funds to First Legacy, but CS refused. (Comp. at ¶12).

         CS has not answered Plaintiff's complaint or otherwise appeared in this action. Therefore, on March 14, 2019, Plaintiff requested the Clerk enter default against CS, which the Clerk entered the following day. (ECF No. 11).

         On April 15, 2019, Plaintiff filed the present motion for interpleader deposit. (ECF No. 13). Plaintiff's motion seeks an order: (1) permitting it to deposit the funds at issue into the Registry of this Court; (2) dismissing and discharging it from this action; and (3) awarding it reasonable attorneys' fees and costs. (ECF No. 13 at 1). Alternatively, Plaintiff seeks an order permitting it to deliver the funds at issue to First Legacy. (Id.). Neither Defendant has opposed Plaintiff's motion.

         DISCUSSION

         A. Subject matter jurisdiction

         Plaintiff asserts that this Court may exercise subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1335 and 28 U.S.C. § 2361.

         28 U.S.C. § 1335(a) provides that district courts shall have “original jurisdiction of any civil action of interpleader” filed by any person, firm, corporation, association, or society “having in his or its custody or possession money or property of the value of $500 or more” if

(1) [t]wo or more adverse claimants, of diverse citizenship as defined in subsection (a) or (d) of section 1332 of this title, are claiming or may claim to be entitled to ...

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