Dinini v. Mechanics' Savings Bank of Winsted

Decision Date07 March 1912
Citation85 Conn. 225,82 A. 580
CourtConnecticut Supreme Court

Appeal from Court of Common Pleas, Litchfield County; Gideon H Welch, Judge.

Action by John Dinini against the Mechanics' Savings Bank of Winsted. Judgment for defendant, and plaintiff appeals. Affirmed.

Richard T. Higgins, for appellant.

Samuel A. Herman, for appellee.


It appears from the finding that in May, 1910, the plaintiff was an Italian, who could speak and understand but little English. At this time, the defendant was a savings bank, with nearly 3,900 depositors, of which about 100 were of the same nationality as the plaintiff. On May 16, 1910, the plaintiff sent $200 to the defendant by Mrs. Anna Cordano, who deposited this money with the bank for the plaintiff. A deposit book for $200 was issued by the bank in the plaintiff's name, which, with an identification card made out by the clerk of the bank, was taken by Mrs. Cordano to the plaintiff. Dinini signed his name in the blank space left for that purpose upon the identification card, and returned it to the bank. The plaintiff gave the bank book for safe-keeping to his mother, who placed it in her trunk. On July 8, 1910, the plaintiff drew $75 of his deposit, and signed and delivered to the defendant his receipt therefor. The bank book was again given to the mother, who placed it in her trunk. Subsequently one John Rimondi stole this book from the trunk, and on the 7th day of September, 1910, he presented the book to the defendant, representing himself to be the plaintiff, and withdrew from the bank the sum of $125 being the balance of the deposit, and surrendered the book to the bank. Rimondi at the same time also signed and delivered to the defendant a receipt for the money, forging the name of the plaintiff on the receipt. Rimondi, soon after obtaining this money from the defendant, left town, but was subsequently apprehended, tried, convicted, and sentenced to state's prison for his offense.

The $125 was paid to Rimondi by Miss Ella L. Norton, who was then and for a number of years had been a clerk in the bank; but it was not paid over until she had made a comparison of the signatures, and had satisfied herself as to the identity of the person who presented the depositor's book. It had been the practice and custom of the defendant for a number of years to use identification cards, and to make payments and allow withdrawals from deposits without further identification than the signature of the depositor. It did not appear in evidence that any inquiry was made of Rimondi by Miss Norton, or by any other officer of the bank as to his identification, based upon the information contained on the card, or from any other source. The plaintiff and Rimondi, so far as the evidence shows, have no particular marks of personal resemblance, except that they are both of the same nationality. The defendant called as handwriting experts Rufus E. Holmes, George S. Rowe, and Frank D. Hallett, all of whom have had extensive experience in banking business and in the examination of signatures and determination as to their genuineness. These witnesses testified on the direct that the genuine and the forged signatures had, in their opinion, both been written by the same person. On cross-examination, each admitted that there was a dissimilarity in the formation of some of the letters, as also in the spelling of the name; and none of them testified positively that these signatures were written by the same hand.

On the cover of the bank book, the following words were printed " Read carefully this book and preserve it. If you lose or mislay it give immediate notice to the bank." Among the by-laws of the bank printed in the depositor's book are the following: " Sec. 5. All deposits shall be entered on the treasurer's book and on a deposit book to be given to each depositor and each depositor on making his first deposit shall by such act be considered as assenting to and bound by all the by-laws and regulations of the bank." " Sec. 8. This corporation will not be responsible to any depositor of money in this institution or to his or her heirs or assigns for any fraud that may be practiced upon any of the officers of this institution by forged signatures or by presenting a depositor's book and drawing money without the knowledge or consent of the owner; and all entries of money paid, made on the depositor's book by an officer of this institution, shall be deemed good and valid evidence of money paid, and shall exonerate the bank from any liability on account of any fraud practiced in drawing the money of any depositor." There was no evidence that the plaintiff had any knowledge of the by-laws or provisions contained in his book, or that he agreed to be bound by the same, other than...

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