Virginia Lawyers Weekly//October 24, 2022
Virginia Lawyers Weekly//October 24, 2022//
Where the court previously dismissed with prejudice a suit brought by disgruntled bank customers for failure to state a claim, their current complaint — which was their fifth complaint — was substantially similar to the previously filed complaints and the five suits involved the same parties, the latest suit was barred by res judicata.
This case arises from a series of events beginning on June 28, 2019, when plaintiffs went to a SunTrust branch in Old Town Alexandria. They spoke with the branch manager about opening an account and inquired about when funds would be available. Plaintiffs claim the bank manager assured them the funds would be available July 1, 2019, if the account was opened that same day, which plaintiffs proceeded to so.
On July 1, 2019, Plaintiffs went back to the bank branch to present a $1300.00 check to be cashed. Branch manager told plaintiffs that the funds were not available for withdrawal but to come back the next day, July 2, 2019.
On July 2, plaintiffs returned to withdraw funds and close the accounts. When Plaintiffs presented a $20 check to be cashed, the teller told them the funds were not available. Again, the branch manager told plaintiffs to come back the next day, July 3. On July 3, plaintiffs again went to the Old Town branch and the branch manager informed her the account was closed because of fraud and there was an issue with the check they attempted to deposit.
This is plaintiffs’ fifth lawsuit arising out of these alleged facts. Defendants’ move to dismiss the complaint and request a prefiling injunction.
The party raising a res judicata defense must establish: “(1) a final judgement on the merits in a prior suit; (2) an identity of the cause of action in both the earlier and the later suit; and (3) an identity of parties or their privies in the two suits.” In this case, all three elements of res judicata are present.
First, this court’s second order dismissing plaintiffs’ complaint for failure to state a claim did so with prejudice. A court’s dismissal with prejudice satisfies the first element of having a judgement on the merits in a prior suit. Second, the current complaint is sufficiently identical to the earlier suits to fulfill the second element. Even if plaintiffs argue they pled any additional claims, such claims would arise out of the same transaction or series of transactions as the claims resolved in the prior judgements. Lastly, all five suits involve the same parties.
Defendant’s motion to dismiss granted. Defendant’s request for a prefiling injunction denied.
Wade v. Truist Bank, Case No. 1:22-cv-00907, Oct. 7, 2022. EDVA at Alexandria (Hilton). VLW 022-3-464. 7 pp.