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FIRST NATIONAL BANK OF VICKSBURG, MISSISSIPPI v. WILLIAM T. MIDDLETON

NOVEMBER 27, 1985

FIRST NATIONAL BANK OF VICKSBURG, MISSISSIPPI
v.
WILLIAM T. MIDDLETON, CLABE K. MIDDLETON, JR., INDIVIDUALLY, AND CLABE K. MIDDLETON, JR., ADMINISTRATOR OF ESTATE OF CLABE K. MIDDLETON, SR.



BEFORE ROY NOBLE LEE, DAN LEE and PRATHER

ROY NOBLE LEE, PRESIDING JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

The First National Bank of Vicksburg, Mississippi, (The Bank) appeals from a judgment of the Chancery Court of Warren County, dismissing the complaint of interpleader filed by the bank involving funds claimed, respectively, (1) by William T. Middleton and (2) by Clabe K. Middleton, Jr., individually, and Clabe K. Middleton, Jr., Administrator of the Estate of Clabe K. Middleton, Sr. The bank assigns two errors in the judgment of the lower court.

The Facts

 Clabe K. Middleton, Sr. was eighty (80) years of age at the time of his death on July 15, 1983. He was a lifelong resident of Warren County, Mississippi, maintaining his residence at Yokena, Mississippi, during the last years of his life. He was survived by two sons, William T. Middleton, who had lived with his father until William's marriage in 1974, and Clabe K. Middleton, Jr. William T. Middleton enjoyed a close personal relationship with his father, visiting with him

 on an average of once each week and assisting him in various matters.

 Clabe K. Middleton, Sr. had a certificate of deposit in the First National Bank (appellant) dated July 26, 1982, and with maturity date of January 24, 1983, in the sum of thirty-five thousand three hundred seventy-three dollars ninety-three cents ($35,373.93). According to the certificate of deposit, Clabe K. Middleton (Sr.) and William T. Middleton were joint tenants with right of survivorship and not as tenants in common. On or after the maturity date of the certificate, William T. Middleton redeemed the certificate of deposit and the proceeds were placed in a joint account in the name of "Clabe K. Middleton, by William T. Middleton," and a signature card establishing the account was executed by William T. Middleton.

 After the death of Clabe K. Middleton, Sr., his son, Clabe K. Middleton, Jr., qualified as administrator of his estate and made demand upon the bank to transfer the funds in the account designated "Clabe K. Middleton, Sr. by William T. Middleton" into the estate account, and, accordingly, the bank transferred the sum of thirty-one thousand four hundred fifteen dollars seventy-two cents ($31,415.72) into the account of "Clabe K. Middleton, Jr., Administrator of the Estate of Clabe K. Middleton, Sr., Deceased." Upon learning of the transfer of said funds, William T. Middleton made demand upon the bank for the funds in the account designated "Clabe K. Middleton, Sr., by William T. Middleton," which bore only the authorized signature of William T. Middleton. Attorneys representing William T. Middleton and his brother, Clabe K. Middleton, Jr., individually and as administrator, made respective demands upon the bank for the funds on behalf of their clients, and there was oral and written contact made between those attorneys and the bank's attorneys. As a result, the bank froze the funds in the Clabe K. Middleton, Sr. estate account, and, after a written demand from the attorney of William T. Middleton for the money, on September 16, 1983, the bank filed a complaint of interpleader on September 20, 1983, requesting the court to determine whether William T. Middleton or Clabe K. Middleton, Jr., Administrator of the Estate of Clabe K. Middleton, Sr., Deceased, was entitled to the funds and to discharge the bank from all liability in the matter.

 William T. Middleton filed an answer and counterclaim to the complaint for interpleader wherein he stated that the bank erroneously transferred the funds from the account of "Clabe K. Middleton, Sr. by William T. Middleton" to the estate account and that he has consistently

 and persistently made demand upon the bank for said funds. He admitted the allegation of the complaint for interpleader that both he and Clabe K. Middleton, Jr., as administrator of the estate of Clabe K. Middleton, Sr., have made demand upon the bank for the said funds. He further asked for judgment against the First National Bank in the sum of $31,415.72 together with interest. William T. Middleton also filed a cross-claim against Clabe K. Middleton, Jr., individually, and as Administrator of the Estate of Clabe K. Middleton, Sr., alleging that Clabe K. Middleton, Jr., on or about January 21, 1983, requested the First National Bank to close out the said accounts and move the proceeds of the funds into the estate account; that Clabe K. Middleton, Jr., then attempted to remove the funds from the estate account, but that the bank froze said account; and that he, William T. Middleton, is the owner of said funds and is entitled to same.

 Clabe K. Middleton, Jr., Administrator of the Estate of Clabe K. Middleton, Sr., answered the complaint for interpleader and alleged that the bank arbitrarily froze the funds which had been transferred to the estate account when the bank knew that William T. Middleton was not making any claim to said funds, but, to the contrary, William T. Middleton had advised officers of the bank that he desired the funds continued in the estate; and that the bank had exercised willful, wanton, and arbitrary bad faith in freezing the funds, causing harm and damage to Clabe K. Middleton, Jr., individually, and as administrator of his father's estate. He then filed a counterclaim against the bank asking damages in the sum of one million five hundred thousand dollars ($1,500,000).

 The Law

 The bank has assigned the following errors in the judgment of the lower court, which questions will be addressed as one:

 (1) The lower court erred in holding that Rule 22 of the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure extended the jurisdiction of the chancery court in this case beyond its constitutional limits.

 (2) The lower court erred in dismissing the interpleader based upon allegations that the stakeholder ...


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