Bank of America Ordered to Pay $3.3 Million in Mistaken Identity Case
A Florida man who walked into a Bank of America branch to deposit an $100 check walked away three years later with an order for the bank to pay him $3.3 million after a case of mistaken identity.
Rodolfo Valladares, 50, entered the bank to cash a check but was allegedly beaten by police after a bank teller mistook him for a bank robber whose photo tellers had recently received.
The photo showed a man wearing a Miami Heat baseball cap, which Valladares was also wearing. The photo, however, showed a suspect who looked to be in his 60s and weighed about 145 pounds, while Valladares was 46 at the time and weighed more than 200 pounds.
Valladares "displayed no weapon, made no threat, and demanded no money," his attorneys wrote in the lawsuit he filed against Bank of America. Valladares sued the bank for negligence and for battery.
The teller pressed the silent robbery alarm and engaged in a conversation with him until police arrived.
Valladares said he was "beaten, kicked in the head and handcuffed by police officers who responded to the alarm, but his check was finally cashed by bank employees and he was released after it was determined to be a case of mistaken identity."
The battery portion of the lawsuit claims that Valladares suffered permanent headaches, damage to his vision and post-traumatic stress disorder from "being kicked in the head by a SWAT Team member brandishing a machine gun that was aimed at his head as he lay face down on the floor of the bank."
The negligence charge alleged that the bank was negligent and careless in activating and failing to cancel the silent robbery alarm, even after knowing that that Valladares was not robbing the bank.
They also alleged that the bank has failed to properly train its employees in terms of identifying suspected bank robbers.
"Bank employees had many opportunities to notify the police that Rudy was just trying to cash a check, and that this was a false alarm. Instead, they watched as police officers beat him under the mistaken belief that he was a bank robber," Valladares' attorney Russell Adler wrote in a statement. "This is a therapeutic verdict. Bank of America needs to do a better job training and supervising its employees about handling false robbery alarms, and communicating with the police."
Bank of America plans to appeal the verdict and believes the teller acted reasonably under the circumstances.
"Although the jury reached a verdict, there are several post trial motions that are either pending or will be filed by Monday. And even if we do not prevail on those motions, we also plan to appeal to the Florida appellate courts," Bank spokeswoman Shirley Norton wrote in an email to ABC News. "The Bank disagrees with the award. We do not believe that it was not warranted or reasonable in light of the evidence presented or applicable law."