Jamaican Court Convicts Law Firm for Sending US$100,000 Check to ‘Wrong’ Address | New

The Supreme Court of Jamaica has convicted a Jamaican law firm that sent a check for nearly US$100,000 as part of a land sale to the wrong address in the United States.

The court entered summary judgment on June 22 against Messrs. Hamilton & Hamilton and attorney Courtney Hamilton. The company sent the check for US$99,798.33 to an address in Florida instead of one in Georgia.

A summary judgment is a final decision entered by a court for one party and against another party without a full trial.

Monica Chambers filed a lawsuit in March 2021, claiming she hadn’t received the check and wanted damages for breach of contract and specific damages for money that represented her share of a third of the sale of a property. She is asking for interest at two percent above the commercial bank rate on the damages.

Three months later, she asked the court for summary judgment.

In her petition, Chambers said the defendants, who acted as attorneys in a land sale for her and her parents, did not pay her share of the proceeds. the transaction was finalized in 2020.

In his defense filed in April last year, Courtney Hamilton, the second defendant, said the House check was sent to his parents’ address which he said had been used by all sellers on the sales contract.

But he said that after the sale, the company worked ‘to have the check made payable to the claimant replaced and re-routed to an address provided prior to the duly signed sale agreement.’

He said those efforts came to nothing because the check had already been negotiated and would need to be endorsed by the plaintiff for it to be cashed.

Anything else would be fraud “in which the defendants played no part”, he said.

Hamilton and his company denied there was a breach of contract as there had been no failure to carry out his instructions – the check having been sent to the address used in the sales contract.

They also put the Claimant to strict proof that she had not received the check and produced exhibits including the checks sent to the vendors at an address in Lakeland, Florida.

However, Acting Supreme Court Justice Sheron Barnes, who heard the claim, was unconvinced by the law firm‘s arguments.

She said the lawyers were hired to execute a land sale and given specific instructions on how the funds should be distributed, including where they should be sent. She said that these instructions were part of their contract.

Lawyers have an obligation to carry out instructions by all appropriate means, she said.

The judge also pointed out that the defendants had agreed that the plaintiff had given an alternate address to which her share of the proceeds should be sent and that they had acknowledged receipt of those instructions.

“Furthermore, they have taken steps, through their bank, to place a stop order on the issued check and have a replacement issued. If it hadn’t been for negligence and neglect of duty on their part, they wouldn’t have gone this far,” Judge Barnes said.

The judge also said the uncontested facts were that on September 2, 2020, there was an email between the plaintiff and the defendants that his share would be sent to his address in Georgia and which was later finalized in a letter from the defendant’s law firm. .

A check was issued in the name of the Claimant and sent to the address indicated in the sales contract which was not the address to which the Claimant had given instructions for her check to be sent, the judge pointed out.

“As solicitors, defendant’s firm not only breached the contract it had with plaintiff, but acted negligently by its own admitted ‘error’ in not having the sale proceeds sent directly to him.

She continued: ‘To say that they are subjecting the claimant to ‘strict proof that she has not received the check’ is dishonest in circumstances where they have admitted that they did not send the check to her as instructed. recognised.”

The judge said there was no defense that could be raised that would negate the fact that there are funds owed to the plaintiff. “That being so, the defendants have no real prospect of successfully defending the claim and the motion for summary judgment,” the judge said.

Summary judgment was entered this month in favor of the plaintiff. The judge also awarded costs to the plaintiff.

A hearing to prepare the damage assessment has been set for November 15.

The defendants were granted leave to appeal. They are represented by lawyer Andrew Graham mandated by the law firm Bishop & Partners.

The lawyer Yualande Christopher mandated by Yualande Christopher & Associates represents the plaintiff.

-Barbara Gayle

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