Slain Lottery Winner’s Case Is State Court Bound

     (CN) – A state court should determine whether Bank of America is liable after one of its agents helped the woman who murdered a Florida lottery winner, a federal judge ruled.
     Dorice Moore had befriended Abraham Shakespeare a couple of years after he won $17 million in 2006. The illiterate Florida man had been reportedly giving money away to anyone who asked, and Moore purported to act as his manager.
     Prosecutors said she instead swindled the money he had left, shot him twice in the chest, buried him under concrete in her boyfriend’s backyard and tried to make people think he was still alive.
     Moore was convicted in December 2012 and sentenced to life in prison plus 25 years.
     But Shakespeare’s representative, Christine Miller, claimed that another entity bore responsibility for Moore’s conduct: Bank of America.
     In a state court complaint, Miller alleged that Moore opened up a bank account for the Abraham Shakespeare LLC with the assistance of branch manager Guy Doug Hancock.
     Moore “informed Mr. Hancock that she was in the business of tracking down tax clients and turning them in to the IRS,” according to U.S. District Judge Virginia Covington’s summary of the case. “She further informed Mr. Hancock that Mr. Shakespeare was one of the tax cheats, but that she felt sorry for him and had decided to help him instead of turning him in.”
     Moore and Shakespeare met with Hancock in February 2009 and deposited more than $1 million in the account.
     Shakespeare was adamant about being able to access his money, but Moore allegedly doubled back and asked Hancock to make sure Shakespeare did not withdraw any money.
     Moore soon had Shakespeare removed as a signatory on the account. She transferred $500,000 to accounts she held for her other corporations, as well as her boyfriend’s business account.
     Miller said Moore also took out $20,000 for Hancock to thank him for his help in keeping Shakespeare away from the money. Hancock allegedly placed this check in a safe deposit box.
     After Bank of America removed the negligence and breach of fiduciary duty action to federal court, Miller claimed that a remand was warranted because she wanted to amend her complaint to add two defendants who would destroy diversity jurisdiction: Moore and Hancock.
     Though Judge Covington questioned the convenient timing of Miller’s request, she said the law does not require the court to inquire about her motives.
     “Although it is a close call, this court is not persuaded that Miller seeks amendment of her complaint in an effort to divest this court of subject matter jurisdiction,” the 11-page ruling states.
     Covington also noted how “the record reflects that Miller’s case is in its infancy and that her request to amend the complaint is made before service of process has been effected upon a single defendant.”
     “Dilatory motive has not been established under the facts presented,” she added.

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