United States District Court, District of Columbia
ROSEMARY M. COLLYER United States District Judge.
Doe, “a well-known international figure with a
political background, ” and his daughter, Jane Doe, sue
the Bank of America Corporation for negligence and breach of
contract (Counts I and II) because, after Mr. Doe's
34-year personal banking relationship with Bank of America,
both his and his daughter's accounts were summarily
closed. Mr. Doe claims damage to his reputation,
alleging that the abrupt and unexplained closing of his
account may suggest to international corporations on whose
boards he might serve, that he was engaged in illegal
financial activities, such as money laundering, which he
vehemently denies. See Compl., Introduction.
Plaintiffs demand an explanation and money damages “for
the embarrassment, reputational damage, and business-related
damages” they have suffered. See id.
¶¶ 21, 27. Defendant, Bank of America Corporation,
moves to dismiss the complaint. See Mot. to Dismiss
Complaint initially named Merrill Lynch, presumably Merrill
Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc., as a Defendant. In
the Opposition, however, Plaintiffs agree to dismiss all
allegations against Merrill Lynch (Counts III and IV) with
prejudice. See Opp'n [Dkt. 16] at 2-3 (“In
the interest of judicial expediency, Plaintiff agrees to drop
Counts III and IV against Defendant Merrill Lynch with
prejudice.”). The Court will dismiss Plaintiffs'
remaining counts against the Bank of America Corporation for
failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
Doe is an American citizen and a resident of Florida. His
daughter, Jane Doe, is an American citizen and a resident of
Georgia. Plaintiffs bring this suit against Bank of American
Corporation (BAC) as “an attempt by an experienced
world diplomat to ascertain the reason why the banking
relationship he had with [BAC] was summarily terminated even
though he had an excellent 34-year banking record with
them.” Compl., Introduction. “The only reason
Plaintiff has filed this lawsuit is [BAC's] adamant
refusal to tell him the reasons why his account was
closed.” Id. Therefore, “certain parties
(like international conglomerates seeking the services of
reputable board members like [Mr. Doe]) . . . [may] speculate
that [Mr. Doe] had engaged in or was complicit in
money-laundering activities.” Id.
states that during his 34 years of a continuous banking
relationship with BAC, “[t]here were no incidents of
bounced checks or incidents of misdirected wire transfers,
and no need to generate any Suspicious Activity Reports
(SARs) in connection with activity in either [his or his
daughter's] account.” Id. ¶ 8.
“On March 23, 2015, [Mr. Doe] received notice of his
[BAC] account's closure, with no reason cited.”
Id. ¶ 9. Jane Doe's account was
“closed at the same time” without explanation.
Id. “After much difficulty, explaining, and
frustration, Plaintiff John Doe was finally able to transfer
his funds to J.P. Morgan Chase, where he now has an
account.” Id. ¶ 10.
Complaint alleges that BAC received information during 2014
from “a newspaper clipping or an inquiry from the U.S.
Department of Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement
Network (FinCEN) or another financial institution like
Merrill Lynch[, ] . . . [which] appeared to implicate [Mr.
Doe] in potential illicit activity.” Id.
¶ 12. Plaintiffs complain that BAC summarily closed
their accounts with no effort to inform them of the
accusations against Mr. Doe or investigate them. Plaintiffs
allege that “the bank should have immediately contacted
[Mr. Doe] and investigated the matter in a comprehensive
manner . . . to ascertain the veracity of the allegations of
misconduct made about him.” Id. ¶ 13.
Through these actions and inactions BAC is alleged to have
violated its “duty to act with reasonable care at all
times . . . [b]y closing the accounts before affording [Mr.
Doe] an opportunity to explain any alleged wrongdoing
disclosed to the bank by federal authorities or other
sources.” Id. ¶ 15. Plaintiffs allege
[BAC] decided not to investigate the spurious charges
because: (a) [Mr. Doe] maintained a home outside of America
where money-laundering guidelines were not as stringent as in
America; (b) there were additional requirements to maintain
this account since he was a politically exposed person
(“PEP”), i.e., SARs would have to be prepared and
sent to Treasury on a regular basis; and (c) [BAC] knew
because monthly SARs would have to be prepared that there
would be an ongoing additional administrative expense to
maintain these accounts.
Id. ¶ 16. In so doing, BAC allegedly breached
its covenant of good faith and fair dealing with Plaintiffs
because it chose the less-expensive alternative of
unilaterally closing their accounts without investigation and
without informing them of its reasons. See Id.
Plaintiffs seek a court order requiring BAC to explain in
writing why it closed their accounts and a monetary award to
compensate “for the embarrassment, reputational damage,
and business-related damages” suffered. Id.
¶¶ 21, 27.
responds that that “[t]he Complaint is devoid of any
facts alleging any kind of cognizable relationship at all,
contractual or otherwise, between Plaintiffs and BAC.”
Mot. to Dismiss at 8. It explains that BAC is a holding
company that, at the time of Plaintiffs' account
closures, indirectly owned BANA, which is a nationally
chartered bank based in North Carolina with retail banking
centers throughout the country. See id. at 2-3. The
relevant bank accounts were opened at BANA, not BAC, and the
documents governing those accounts were between Plaintiffs
and BANA. See id. at 8; Reply, Ex. 3, BANA Deposit
Agreement and Disclosures Feb. 6, 2015 [Dkt. 17-3] (2015 BANA
Agreement); Reply, Ex. 1, BANA Deposit Agreement and
Disclosures June 19, 2010 [Dkt. 17-1] (2010 BANA
Agreement). BANA is not a named defendant in this
action. BAC urges the Court to dismiss the Complaint against
BAC on this basis alone. See Mot. to Dismiss at 8.
request leave to amend the Complaint against BAC “or
against [BANA] if that is deemed necessary by the Court as
the proper named party against whom these claims should be
asserted.” Opp'n at 3. The Court will grant
BAC's Motion to Dismiss and will deny Plaintiffs'
request to amend because, upon analysis, such an amendment
would prove futile.
Motion to Dismiss
motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) challenges the
adequacy of a complaint on its face. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A
complaint must be sufficient “to give a defendant fair
notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which
it rests.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (internal citations omitted). Although a
complaint does not need detailed factual allegations, a
plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his
entitlement to relief “requires more than labels and
conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a
cause of action will not do.” Id. A court must
treat the complaint's factual allegations as true,
“even if doubtful in fact, ” id., but a
court need not accept as true legal conclusions set forth in
a complaint, see Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009). To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must
contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state
a claim for relief that is “plausible on its
face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. A complaint
must allege sufficient facts that would allow the court
“to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is
liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 678-79.
deciding a motion under Rule 12(b)(6), a court may consider
the facts alleged in the complaint, documents attached to the
complaint as exhibits or incorporated by reference, and
matters about which the court may take judicial notice.