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French Bank of California v. First National Bank of Louisville

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French Bank of California v. First National Bank of Louisville
CourtCourt of Appeals of Kentucky
Full case nameFrench Bank of California v. First National Bank of Louisville
DecidedAugust 3, 1979 (1979-08-003)
Citation(s)585 S.W.2d 431 (1979)
Case history
Appealed fromJefferson Circuit Court
Case opinions
Decision byJudge Howerton
ConcurrenceJudge Cooper
DissentJudge Gant

French Bank of California v. First National Bank of Louisville 585 S.W.2d 431 (1979) is a Court of Appeals of Kentucky court case. It concerned the obligation of restitution when money is received in error.[1]


French Bank of California had transferred $30,000 to Bank of America at the behest of their client, Fossil Energy Corporation with orders for it to be paid to the First National Bank of Louisville account of Total Coal Sales. A French Bank telex operator accidentally sent the request three times rather than once, however Bank of America only authorized two of those transactions.[2] The mistake was realized ten days later and French Bank wrote to First National to indemnify them for restitution, however the indemnity was not issued. French Bank sued to get the duplicate $30,000 returned.[1]


After the original case at Jefferson Circuit Court found against French Bank,[3] they appealed to the Court of Appeals of Kentucky. French Bank argued that if a party receives money by mistake, then they have an obligation to make restitution. The court disagreed with this on the grounds that First National had irrevocably changed its position once it put the money in the account. They also noted that had Total Coal Sales attempted to take the money out, then First National could have been sued had they disallowed it.[1]

The court ruled that under KRS 287.800,[4] though First National received the money by mistake, they had no obligation to return the money unless there was a court order or an agreed indemnity issued, neither of which had been done. As a result on a 2-1 judgement, the court affirmed the original trial ruling.[1] Judge Gant dissented on the grounds that KRS 287.800 was not in force at the time and argued that the common law was that the duty was on First National to return the money.[1] The case was later held as precedent in cases where money is received by mistake.[3][5]

In fiction[edit]

The case's citation 585 S.W.2d 431 was used in the 1997 film The Rainmaker. In the film the case citation is claimed to refer to the fictional case of Club Ruby v. Carmine De Soto regarding the admissibility of stolen documents as evidence in court.[6]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "French Bank of California v. First National Bank of Louisville". Justia. Retrieved 2020-01-11.
  2. Thévenoz, Luc (1990). Error and Fraud in Wholesale Funds Transfers. Schulthess Polygraphischer Verlag. p. 38. ISBN 3725528233. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  3. 3.0 3.1 "French Bank of California v. First National Bank of Louisville". Casetext. Retrieved 2020-01-11.
  4. "KRS 287.800". Kentucky General Assembly. Retrieved 2020-01-11.
  5. "Lindley V. Paducah Bank Trust". Caselaw.findlaw.com. Retrieved 2020-01-11.
  6. Sahl, John. "The Rainmaker Film: A Window to View Lawyers and Professional Responsibility" (PDF). University of Memphis: 39. Retrieved 2020-01-12.

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