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Castorino v. Citibank N.A.

December 5, 2008

OMAR CASTORINO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITIBANK N.A., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Paul A. Crotty, United States District Judge

OPINION & ORDER

Plaintiff Omar Castorino ("Plaintiff") alleges that Defendant Citibank N.A. ("Defendant") breached its contractual and common law duties concerning a joint banking account (the "Joint Account") opened by Plaintiff, his uncle Nelson Castorino ("Nelson"), and a third party. Plaintiff alleges that he and Nelson became "embroiled in a dispute." Concerned about the Joint Account, Plaintiff contends that he instructed Defendant to notify him of any request for withdrawal made by Nelson. Thereafter Defendant notified Nelson of Plaintiff's request, and Nelson subsequently transferred more than $1 million out of the Joint Account.

On March 31, 2008, Defendant moved to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint in its entirety pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the following reasons, Defendant's motion is GRANTED.

BACKGROUND

I. Facts

Plaintiff is a citizen and resident of Paraguay. (Compl. ¶ 3.) On September 1, 2005, Plaintiff, Nelson, and a third party opened the Joint Account with Defendant Citibank through Citibank's International Personal Banking Division, which is headquartered in New York. (Id. ¶¶ 5, 6.) Defendant provided Plaintiff with a Spanish version of the Joint Account's opening documents (the "Spanish Version"). (See Pl.'s Mem. of Law in Response to Def.'s Motion to Dismiss ("Pl. Response") at 6.) An English version of the opening documents (the "English Version") also exists, although according to Plaintiff, Defendant did not provide him with a copy.*fn1 (Compl. ¶ 8.)

The Joint Account's balance was $1,103,372.65 in June 2007. (Id. ¶ 10.) Prior to that, Plaintiff and Nelson became embroiled in a dispute and Nelson terminated Plaintiff's position in the family business. (Id. ¶ 11.) Plaintiff then hired the Miami-based law firm of Roth, Rousso & Katsman, LLP (the "Roth Firm") to facilitate communications with Defendant Citibank in order to ensure that Plaintiff's interests in the Joint Account were protected. (Id. ¶ 12.) On June 19, 2007, the Roth Firm sent an e-mail to Defendant requesting a meeting to discuss the Joint Account and specifically asking that the request for a meeting not be disclosed to Nelson. (Id. ¶¶ 13-15.) The e-mail also asked Defendant to inform Plaintiff if Nelson attempted to withdraw, transfer, or otherwise move the money in the Joint Account. (Id. ¶ 15.)

The Roth Firm ultimately arranged a meeting with Defendant on July 9, 2007 in New York. (Id. ¶¶ 16-20.) At the meeting, Defendant's representative told Plaintiff that (1) Defendant had informed Nelson of Plaintiff's request for a meeting; and (2) after being informed of the request, Nelson instructed Defendant to transfer an amount of money in excess of one million dollars out of the Joint Account and into a separate account to which only Nelson and the third party had access. (Id. ¶¶ 20, 21, 25.) On September 13, 2007, after receiving multiple requests from Plaintiff for additional information, Defendant provided Plaintiff with documents related to the Joint Account confirming that Nelson had withdrawn the bulk of the funds. (Id. ¶¶ 22-24.)

II. Plaintiff's Claims

Plaintiff's Complaint advances two causes of action.*fn2 First, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant breached its contractual obligations "by acting in a commercially unreasonable manner in deliberately and unfaithfully ignoring [Plaintiff's] request for a confidential meeting and by facilitating Nelson's looting of the account." (Compl. ¶ 27.)

Second, in the alternative, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant breached its common law duty of reasonable care by:

1) failing to follow [Plaintiffs'] specific instructions.; 2) failing to place a hold on the account until the conflict between the account holders was resolved; 3) by allowing one of the account holders to withdraw 90% of the funds in the account knowing a conflict existed between account holders and not notifying the other account holder in a commercially reasonable time frame; 4) by concealing and also withholding information pertinent to the account from [Plaintiff] over a period of months despite consistent requests for said information." (Id. ¶ 35.)

DISCUSSION

III. Motion to Dismiss ...


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