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On Account Claim Deficient Where Account Statements Attached To Plaintiff's Complaint Do Not Reflect Purchases And Payments

            In Equable Ascent Fin., LLC v. Christian, 196 Ohio App.3d 34, 2001-Ohio-3791 the Court of Appeals in the Tenth District, Franklin County, reversed a trial court’s order granting default judgment to plaintiff credit card account holder on the grounds that the on account claim filed against Defendant debtor Sue Ann Christian (“Christian”) failed because the credit card statements attached to the Complaint were insufficiently detailed. 

            Plaintiff Equable Ascent Fin., LLC (“Equable”) held Christian’s credit card account.  Equable filed suit and, after Christian failed to timely answer, Equable moved for a default judgment on account.  The trial court granted the default judgment, but Christian appealed arguing that the statements attached to Equable’s complaint on account, which showed only the total amount owed and the interest rate, were insufficient.  The Court of Appeals examined the issue under Civ. R. 10(D)(1), which requires that: “[w]hen any claim or defense is founded on an account . . . a copy of the account . . . must be attached to the pleading [and if it is not] the reason for the omission must be stated in the pleading.”  Civ. R. 10(D).  The Court of Appeals examined prior cases on the issue, noting that other courts have required that the statements attached to a complaint show “a balance, beginning preferably at zero, or with a sum recited that can qualify as an account stated.”  Equable, citing Brown v. Columbus Stamping & Mfg. Co. (1967), 9 Ohio App.2d 123.  Further, courts require that after the balance, the statements list the “item or items, dated and identifiable by number or otherwise, representing charges, or debits, and credits.”  Id.  

            The Equable Court noted that in some cases strict compliance will not be required, for example where an account did not start at zero.  However, the Equable Court ultimately found that the statements of account attached to the Complaint in this case were inadequate, because they did not reflect any purchases or payments, but merely stated the end amount owed and the applicable interest rate.  A “series of copies of invoices does not constitute an account.”  Id. citing Brown v. Columbus Stamping & Mfg. Co. (1967), 9 OhioAPp.2d at 125. 

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Vincent E. Mauer represents clients in commercial and business disputes with particular emphasis on financial institutions and instruments, including financial institution bonds, securities, insurance policies and commercial loans.

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