CHARLESTON - Powerball winner Jack Whittaker and City National Bank have exchanged lawsuits in the past week.
Whittaker has claimed several people stole his checks and cashed them at different branches of City National Bank, clearing his account. Whittaker claims he cannot pay the settlement of a different lawsuit because thieves cleared out his account.
After it was discovered the money had been taken, Whittaker's attorney requested reimbursement for the checks, but the bank has refused to pay.
A complaint filed Jan. 19 by City National claimed that it was not liable for the stolen checks because the checks had what appeared to be Whittaker's signature, reproduced mechanically, along with the proper account number and check number.
In the suit filed by City National, it quotes Whittaker as saying he "wants to stress that City National wasn't at fault," but he still requests reimbursement.
In rebuttal, Whittaker's corporation Whittaker LLC filed a suit Jan. 22 in Raleigh County against City National, claiming the bank was negligent in cashing the 12 checks, 10 of which were cashed in West Virginia. The other two were cashed in Kentucky.
A depository agreement between the bank and Whittaker states that if a mechanically reproduced signature is used the bank is not liable for maintaining security over the signature, therefore the bank claims Whittaker is negligent.
However, the suit filed by Whittaker's attorney, Robert Dunlap of Beckley, on Jan. 22, claims Whittaker does not use a mechanically reproduced signature, he uses " an old-fashioned signature stamp."
"It is simply ludicrous to suggest that a bank, through this provision buried in a disclosure, would be excused from exercising due diligence when receiving a check for cash on a customer's account because the customer used a stamp of a completely different signature," Whittaker's suit says.
The suit filed by City National attorney Ancil Ramey says that each of the checks was properly endorsed, and most of the checks had Whittaker's driver's license number on them.
The checks totaled almost $50,000.
The checks ranged in amount from $2,200 to $7,200. The suit filed on behalf of Whittaker LLC claims the bank was negligent because the tellers did not check for proper identification, not did they "apply special scrutiny" to the account. The suit states there are rarely checks cashed in excess of $1,000 on one day, much less 12 for larger amounts on the same day.
In a suit filed Jan. 10, Kitty K. French claimed that Whittaker had not paid her from a settlement in 2004. Whittaker wrote French a letter telling her why he could not pay her because "a team of crooks" went to 12 different City National Banks, cashed 12 checks, and "got all my money," the suit states.
He also said he intended to pay, but could not without the money.
Whittaker won the Powerball on Christmas Day 2002. The payout was the largest undivided prize in U.S. history. He took the lump sum of the $315 million winnings, which was $113 million after taxes.
He has been in the public eye since then for several incidents, including drunken driving charges, the death of his granddaughter from a drug overdose, the death of an 18-year-old man who was found in Whittaker's home, bounced checks at prominent locations, assault charges and several lawsuits.