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Louis v. Citizens Bank

Superior Court of Maine

February 23, 2016

JEAN THANEX LOUIS, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
CITIZENS BANK, Defendant-Appellee.

JEAN THANEX LOUIS BRUCE HOCHMAN ESQ

ORDER ON PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT'S SMALL CLAIMS APPEAL

Lance E. Walker Justice, Superior Court

Before the Court is Plaintiff-Appellant Jean Thanex Louis's appeal from a small claims judgment entered in the Portland District Court in favor of Defendant-Appellee Citizens Bank, Docket No. PORDC-SC-14-874. A hearing on the appeal was held on January 8, 2016. Based on the following, Plaintiff-Appellant Louis's appeal is denied and the small claims judgment is affirmed.

I. Background

Plaintiff-Appellant Jean Thanex Louis filed a small claims action with the Portland District Court on October 31, 2014. (Statement of Claim 1.) Louis claimed that, in February 2012, Defendant-Appellee Citizens Bank impermissibly cashed a tax refund check in the amount of $4, 457.00 that was made out to Simone MaCary and Jean T. Louis. (Id; PI. Ex. 1.) The check appeared to be endorsed by both Simone MaCary and Louis. (PI. Ex. 1.) Louis asserts that he did not endorse the check and did not authorize it to be deposited or cashed. (Appellant Br. 1.) Louis claimed that, as a result of Citizens Bank cashing the check, he has "been paying [the] IRS every year." (Statement of Claim 1.) Louis sought $6000.00 in damages, which included expenses, interest, and court fees. (Id.)

A hearing was held before the Portland District Court on March 12, 2015. (Notice of J. 1.) Following the hearing, Citizens Bank's counsel delivered a letter to District Court clarifying the citation for statutes that counsel had discussed during the hearing. (3/12/15 Letter. 1.) Copies of the letter were sent to Louis. (Id.) The following day, March 13, 2015, the District Court entered judgment in favor of Citizens Bank. (Notice of J. 1.)

On March 24, 2015, Louis filed his notice of appeal and a letter objecting to the Citizens Bank's letter to the District Court. (Notice of Appeal 1; 3/24/15 Letter 1.) The court extended time for Louis to file his appellant brief until June 1, 2015. (5/20/15 Order 1.) On May 29, 2015, Louis filed a one-page brief. (Appellant Br. 1.) Citizen's Bank filed its brief on June 24, 2015. (Appellee Br. 1.)

II. Standard of Review

Any aggrieved party may appeal a small claims judgment entered by the District Court to the Superior Court. M.R.S.C.P. 11(a). An appeal by a plaintiff shall be on questions of law only and shall be determined by the Superior Court without a jury based on the record on appeal. M.R.S.C.P. 11(d)(1). On appeal, the Superior Court will affirm a small claims judgment entered by the District Court unless the judgment was "arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable" based on the evidence in the record on appeal presented as a whole. Manzo v. Reynolds, 477 A.2d 732, 733 (Me. 1984).

The record on appeal shall consist of the original papers and exhibits filed in the District Court, a certified copy of the docket, and a transcript of the hearing before the District Court. M.R. Civ. P. 76F(a). The appellant has the burden of providing an adequate record for the appeal. Sullivan v. Zimmerman, 2013 Me. Super. LEXIS 286, at *2 (Nov. 7, 2013) (citing Lamb v. Euclid Ambler Assoc, 563 A.2d 365, 367 (Me. 1989)). If the appellant wishes to include all or part of a transcript of the District Court proceeding in the record on appeal, the appellant must file a transcript order form with the notice of appeal. M.R. Civ. P 76H(e)(3)(B)(i). If for reasons beyond the appellant's control, a recording or transcript of the District Court proceeding is unavailable, the appellant may prepare a statement of the evidence or proceedings from the best means available, including the appellant's own recollection. M.R. Civ. P. 76F(c).

If an appellant fails to furnish the Superior Court with a transcript of the District Court proceeding or other evidence in lieu of a transcript, the Superior Court is without a basis for reviewing the small claims judgment. Manzo, 477 A.2d at 734. When the Superior Court is without a sufficient record to permit fair consideration of the issues, the court must deny the appeal. Id.

III. Analysis

In his appellant brief, Louis presents the following arguments in support of his appeal: (1) that Citizens Bank violated its own policies by cashing a check made out to two individuals without authorization and confirmation that all parties have legally agreed to cash the check; (2) that Citizens Bank violated Louis's privacy rights and allowed the other individual on listed on the check to commit fraud; (3) that Citizens Bank violated the Uniform Commercial Code by accepting the check without both parties signatures;[1] (4) that Citizens Bank violated federal law by failing to "obtain, verify, and record information that identifies each ...


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