Bank Repossess Wrong House Then Tries To Bargain With Homeowner

By: BeresfordBooth

Unfortunately the story of Katie Barnett, a Vinton County, Ohio woman is not a new one in this post-recession housing market, but is still one a homeowner’s nightmares are made of.  While Ms. Barnett was on vacation, a bank accidentally repossessed her home, rather than the correct home across the street.  When Ms. Barnett returned to her home in McArthur, Ohio, she had to crawl through the window to get into her house because the locks had been changed and her key no longer worked in the front door.  Once inside, Ms. Barnett was greeted by the absence of many of her personal belongings, which she later found out had been sold, given away, or thrown away erroneously by First National Bank.

What happened next is the interesting part: When Ms. Barnett presented an $18,000 estimate to replace her lost possessions to First National Bank’s president, he refused to accept the estimate.  Ms. Barnett quoted the president as saying in response, “We’re not paying you retail here, that’s just the way it is.” Ms. Barnett countered: “I did not tell them to come in my house and make me an offer.  They took my stuff and I want it back.”

If this had happened in Washington State, the law of conversion would apply to the taking of Ms. Barnett’s personal property by the bank (along with other possible legal claims).  The law would place Ms. Barnett in the position she would have been in absent any wrongdoing from the bank, allowing Ms. Barnett to recover the fair market value of the stolen items at the time of the theft.

After receiving extensive negative press from its error, First National Bank offered apologies to Ms. Barnett and stated a “desire to compensate her fairly and equitably for her inconvenience and loss.”  The bank’s change of heart was undoubtedly a result of trying to right the PR nightmare it created and avoid an unpleasant lawsuit.

Hopefully this story will have a happy ending for Ms. Barnett and she will be fully compensated for the bank’s error.


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