Superior Court reverses ruling, says six-figure sum in Wells Fargo account not exempt from garnishment

By Shanice Harris | May 18, 2017

PHILADELPHIA — The state Superior Court has reversed a Bucks County judgment, with the appeals court holding that nearly $200,000 in a Wells Fargo bank account wasn't exempt from garnishment by Bollard & Associates.

The April 24 decision comes after Bollard & Associates appealed an order from the trial court in Bucks County determining that $188,536.31 in a Wells Fargo Bank account was exempt from garnishing.

In February 2016, a judgment was entered in favor of H&R Industries and Harry Schmidt to make the money exempt from garnishment. Bollard & Associates did not agree with the judgment and served interrogatories in support of the execution against H&R and Wells Fargo. 

Wells Fargo responded by alleging that Gary Schmidt, the defendant’s son, held a joint account with his father at Wells Fargo.

Schmidt and H&R Industries filed a claim for exemption — asking for an exemption of $300 and for social security payments. The trial court held a hearing for both parties. 

“Mr. Schmidt testified that prior to 2013, he resided at 2032 Arch Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania," according to court documents. "The residence was titled jointly in Mr. Schmidt’s and Appellees’ names, but Mr. Schmidt averred that the home was his and titled jointly solely for estate planning purposes. Mr. Schmidt paid taxes, insurance, and utility bills for the property. In 2013, Mr. Schmidt moved in with Appellee to a different location."

He later sold the property for profit of $385,073.36. The money was then placed into a joint bank account at Wells Fargo, which Schmidt made withdrawals from. Schmidt admitted that he and H&R Industries — who also had access to the money — had received an IRS form 1099 for the proceeds of the sale. But, according to court documents, the 1099 form for Schmidt was not entered into evidence.

After the hearing in the trial court, the court ruled that $188,536.31 held in the joint Wells Fargo account was exempt from judgment. It ruled that the balance was the remaining proceeds from the sale.

In Bollard & Associates' motion for reconsideration, the company stated that the 1099 forms that were signed by Schmidt were evidence enough that the property was jointly owned by the defendants. The court denied the motion and the appellant filed for appeal with the state Superior Court.

Bollard & Associates stated that the trial court wrongly denied its motion for reconsideration and the Superior Court agreed. The Superior Court ruled that the trial court ignored other evidence that was undisputed. The court ruled that the evidence proved the proceeds were shared between the defendants. As a result, the order was vacated and the case remanded for proceedings.

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Superior Court of Pennsylvania Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.

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