CHICAGO (CN) - A Holocaust survivor claims that $35,000 in restitution payments from the German government disappeared from her Republic Bank of Chicago safe deposit box, and when she complained about it, bank employees kicked her out in the cold.
Alla Liakhovitskaia, a 67-year-old former Ukrainian national, says "bank employees did not offer any comfort, restitution or assistance" after she discovered the cash was missing and "expressed herself vehemently."
She says she last saw the money in her safe deposit box at the bank's West Devon branch in July 2008. When she returned in March 2009, the money was gone.
She filed a $1 million lawsuit in Cook County Court against the bank and employee Iftikhar Hasnat, alleging breach of contract and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Liakhovitskaia has received restitution payments from the German government since 1995 "as a result of her treatment by concentration camp guards and other Nazi agents," according to the lawsuit.
She says the bank's security guard followed her out into the "40-degree weather" and refused to let her back in to plead her case to the manager after she became "very upset." She says the guard forced her to wait in the cold for her relatives to come to her aid.
"Using a uniformed guard to compel a 67-year-old Holocaust survivor with a heart condition to sit outside on the curb of a busy street in 40-degree weather, and providing her no satisfaction or comfort when she was upset by something clearly within the bank's control, fails to meet the standard of customer care the bank should have met," the lawsuit claims.
"The risk of physical injury and injury to health presented by the callous attitude and inappropriate expulsion was considerable."
The bank's manager later told Liakhovitskaia's grandson-in-law that "there was nothing that they [the bank] could do."
The plaintiff seeks $1 in nominal damages and $1 million in punitive and exemplary damages, "to encourage this and other financial institutions to treat their elderly customers with less life-threatening and callous behavior."
Her attorney is William Price in Warrenville, Ill.
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