Wednesday, October 4, 2023
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Bank Wins Round in Disclosure Dispute

(CN) - Bank of America did not violate a customer's rights by disclosing her financial records to her ex-husband, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled.

Suzanne Hirl sued the bank for complying with a subpoena from her ex-husband to turn over bank records for Hirl, her daughter Stephanie from a previous marriage, and the couple's three children.

Hirl argued at trial that the bank should not have turned over the financial statements, because her lawyer told Bank of America that a motion to quash the subpoena would be filed.

The court granted the motion, but Bank of America had already supplied the information.

The trial court ruled in Hirl's favor, but on appeal, her case was short-circuited by the details of the Electronic Fund Transfer Privacy Act (EFTPA). The funds were not electronic in nature, so the appellate division reversed the judgment.

The New Jersey Supreme Court agreed in a per-curiam ruling.

"In the context of the EFTPA, the word 'account' cannot be isolated from the phrase 'electronic fund transfer,'" the justices ruled.

The case was remanded to the trial court for further action consistent with the appellate ruling. Still, Hirl has one more chance to prevail in this case.

"If Hirl is able to establish on remand that the accounts were qualifying accounts under the EFTPA," the justices wrote, "she and Stephanie are entitled to the compensatory damages, punitive damages, and attorney fees previously awarded by the lower court."

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