DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

October 27, 2011

Clock runs out in 60 days with bank errors

About the Law
Andrew Myers

I was going through old paperwork, including bank statements. I don't do online banking. I keep track of everything in my checkbook.

Going back over a pile of bank statements, I found an error over six months ago. The bank deducted $225 when they should have only deducted $125 for one of my checks.

How far back can you go in claiming a bank error? Is there a time limit on disputing an account statement?

You have 60 days after the bank statement was sent by the bank to dispute an item on the statement. If you "call it in" on the phone, the bank may require you to put it in writing within 10 days of the oral notice and send it to an address they provide.

Once they receive notice, they have 10 days to determine whether an error occurred, and three additional days to let you know what they found. If an error is discovered, they have one day to correct the situation.

If, for some reason, the bank can't make a determination during those 10 days, they have an additional 45 days to do the investigation, but only if they credit the account in the amount of the dispute pending final resolution.

The local banker who pointed me in the right direction on the applicable law suggested that, as a business decision, a branch manager might be willing to work with you on this in that the deadline has passed in your case.

Can I sue a casino for having a gambling game in which they control the outcome, resulting in a zero percentage probability of winning?

Here's my answer: no. Casino odds are well known and one goes in knowing the chances of winning. It's the old assumption of the risk defense, where one is said to know the realities of the game and can't complain when the highly likely result occurs. Besides, the odds are not in reality zero; some folks do, in fact, win.

Having said that, I must add that one of my law school professors many years ago was involved in tobacco litigation, seeking to hold cigarette manufacturers liable for cancer and other deaths caused by tobacco.

Many prominent voices said he and others involved in such cases would never win, because "smokers knew the risks and it's their own fault." However, legal history has proven otherwise.

In cases where evidence documented that tobacco manufacturers artificially and knowingly boosted cigarette ingredients that caused addiction, and were not truthful in sworn testimony about this or their knowledge of cancer risks, the tide turned.

A final obstacle: You did not mention the allegedly offending casino. If it is one like those in Connecticut, operated by Native American concerns, they are sovereign entities. Generally speaking, any case must be brought in their own tribal courts.

The day for casino litigation has not arrived. I do not know that it ever will.

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Andrew Myers of Derry has law offices in Derry and North Andover. He is a member of the American Association for Justice and the New Hampshire Trial Lawyers Association. Send questions to andrew@attorney-myers.com.