A war is raging between Bank of America N.A. and Washington D.C. One battle is where a civil lawsuit should be heard: in arbitration, according to BofA, or in court, according to the Attorney General. Arguments were heard by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals on Wednesday October 19, 2011.
In 2008, it came to light that Harriette Walters, a mid-level manager in DC’s Office of Tax and Revenue, masterminded a tax refund check-cashing scheme. She stole $39 million by cashing fraudulent tax refund checks from a city-controlled account with BofA. The city filed an eight-count lawsuit against BofA for its role in Ms. Walter’s scheme, alleging negligence, fraud, and a violation of the local False Claims Act, seeking at least $105 million in damages.
The arguments advanced by the parties in court revolved around whether an arbitration clause in a 2000 agreement between the city and the bank is valid, whether the clause was deemed moot by a later agreement, and whether the contracting employees in the Office of the Chief Financial Officer had the authority to agree to a contract with an arbitration clause. The Court is currently reviewing these arguments; a decision is pending.
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