Citibank (South Dakota) N.A. v. Improta – Richmond County Judge Philip Straniere Continues to Look Out for the Little Guy.
In similarity with his past decisions protecting the rights of consumers and homeowners, Judge Philip Straniere issued a decision and order dismissing Plaintiff-bank’s case against an alleged credit card debtor, due to the Bank’s failure to submit admissible proof to the Court of the alleged monies owed.
Judge Straniere also again raised the important question: “…[A]t what point does an interest rate set in another state in excess of New York’s usury law of 16 percent [3 NYCRR 4.1] become unenforceable as in violation of New York’s public policy.”
From NYLJ, April 7, 2015
“Citibank sued Improta claiming she failed to make payments on a credit card agreement. The court found the action timely as both South Dakota and New York's statute of limitations for contracts acts was six years. It noted, however, that but for a small amount of activity in October 2008, Citibank would not be able to establish that Improta was bound by the agreement as it could not prove mailing of the July 2008 agreement to Improta. Yet, same was rendered moot by billing statements which indicated Improta knew about and acknowledged the debt by negotiating a payment plan for a period of time. Also, under South Dakota law, use of the card, even without receipt of an agreement, apparently created a contract. However, the court noted the monthly statements submitted by Citibank were incomplete, and based on same, the court ruled they were inadmissible. Further, Citibank's failure to establish what the Prime Rate was each month, and provide a "fact sheet" was a failure of proof, and as Citibank included such calculations in the amount it claimed was due, it could not prove its damages. Thus, while Improta had a credit card agreement and owed Citibank money, Citibank failed to prove its prima facie case. The court granted Improta judgment, dismissing Citibank's claim.”