The opinion of the court was delivered by: MOTLEY
Felix Aliuga, plaintiff, (Aliuga), and defendants Perera Co., Inc. (Perera) and Banco de Colombia (Banco), have each filed motions for summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. The court has jurisdiction based on diversity of citizenship. Both Aliuga and Banco claim the right to receive the proceeds of a check for $ 31,982.30 credited to the account of Aliuga at Perera, a foreign exchange dealer located in New York City. Perera moves for summary judgment on its counterclaim against Aliuga for a discharge in interpleader pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 22 and also requests reimbursement for attorneys' fees and expenses incurred in preserving the fund. The fund has been deposited with the Clerk of this Court.
As there are no genuine issues of material fact revealed in the pleadings and plaintiff is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, this court hereby grants plaintiff's motion for summary judgment. Defendant is also granted a discharge in interpleader with appropriate costs and attorneys fees.
The following facts are undisputed by the parties in this action.
In March, 1978, Aliuga agreed with a Mr. Gazcon, not a party to this action, to purchase U. S. dollars with pesos. On March 13, 1978 Gazcon then instructed Manufacturers Hanover Trust Co., not a party to this action, to remit the amount of $ 31,982.30 from his account at Banco, payable to the order of Perera Co., Inc., to Perera for deposit in Aliuga's account at Perera Co., Inc. The $ 31,982.30 was thereupon deposited into Aliuga's account.
On April 10, 1978, Manufacturers Hanover Trust Co. telexed Perera to request the return of the $ 31,982.30 from Aliuga. Aliuga refused to permit the return of the money.
The reason for the requested return of the fund was that the fund was derived from the proceeds of a materially altered check deposited and credited to Gazcon's account at Banco. On March 20, 1978, Banco was informed that a check, drawn on Lloyd's Bank International Ltd. (Lloyd's) and deposited by Gazcon into his account at Banco, had been materially altered. The amount of the Lloyd's check was $ 32,027.23.
Pursuant to a series of agreements between Lloyd's, intervening collecting banks, and Banco guaranteeing prior endorsements, Banco was ultimately debited for the amount of Lloyd's check.
Banco now seeks to shift its loss to Aliuga who, in turn, asserts the right to retain the proceeds of the check for $ 31,982.30.
Discharge in Interpleader
Having deposited the fund into this court, Perera has moved for summary judgment on its counterclaim for a discharge in interpleader with costs and attorney fees. The motion is hereby granted.
The purpose of a discharge in interpleader pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 22 is to shield a neutral stakeholder, who may be either a defendant or plaintiff in the action, from potential double liability for mutually exclusive claims. See John Hancock Mutual Life Ins. Co. v. Kraft, 200 F.2d 952 (2d Cir. 1952). A discharge in interpleader permits the neutral stakeholder having no claim to the subject matter of the action, to retire from the action and requires competing claimants to interplead their claims. Plaintiff has satisfied all procedural prerequisites for Rule 22.
Perera is a neutral stakeholder in this action; it disclaims all and any interest in the fund of $ 31,982.30. Perera is also exposed to the very possibility of double liability that Rule 22 seeks to prevent. Both claims of Banco and Aliuga are ...