Connecticut Seal

General Assembly

File No. 261

    February Session, 2018

House Bill No. 5491

House of Representatives, April 5, 2018

The Committee on Banking reported through REP. LESSER of the 100th Dist., Chairperson of the Committee on the part of the House, that the bill ought to pass.

AN ACT CONCERNING THE AMOUNT OF MONEY FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS MUST LEAVE IN A JUDGMENT DEBTOR'S ACCOUNT DURING A BANK ACCOUNT EXECUTION.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Section 52-367b of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2018):

(a) Execution may be granted pursuant to this section against any debts due from any financial institution to a judgment debtor who is a natural person, except to the extent such debts are protected from execution by sections 52-352a, 52-352b, 52-352c of the general statutes, revision of 1958, revised to 1983, 52-354 of the general statutes, revision of 1958, revised to 1983, 52-361 of the general statutes, revision of 1958, revised to 1983 and section 52-361a, as well as by any other laws or regulations of this state or of the United States which exempt such debts from execution.

(b) If execution is desired against any such debt, the plaintiff requesting the execution shall make application to the clerk of the court. The application shall be accompanied by a fee of one hundred five dollars payable to the clerk of the court for the administrative costs of complying with the provisions of this section which fee may be recoverable by the judgment creditor as a taxable cost of the action. In a IV-D case, the request for execution shall be accompanied by an affidavit signed by the serving officer attesting to an overdue support amount of five hundred dollars or more which accrued after the entry of an initial family support judgment. If the papers are in order, the clerk shall issue such execution containing a direction that the officer serving such execution shall, within seven days from the receipt by the serving officer of such execution, make demand (1) upon the main office of any financial institution having its main office within the county of the serving officer, or (2) if such main office is not within the serving officer's county and such financial institution has one or more branch offices within such county, upon an employee of such a branch office, such employee and branch office having been designated by the financial institution in accordance with regulations adopted by the Banking Commissioner, in accordance with chapter 54, for payment of any such nonexempt debt due to the judgment debtor and, after having made such demand, shall serve a true and attested copy of the execution, together with the affidavit and exemption claim form prescribed by subsection (k) of this section, with the serving officer's actions endorsed thereon, with the financial institution officer upon whom such demand is made. The serving officer shall not serve more than one financial institution execution per judgment debtor at a time, including copies thereof. After service of an execution on one financial institution, the serving officer shall not serve the same execution or a copy thereof upon another financial institution until receiving confirmation from the preceding financial institution that the judgment debtor had insufficient funds at the preceding financial institution available for collection to satisfy the execution, provided any such additional service is made not later than forty-five days from the receipt by the serving officer of such execution. After service of an execution on a financial institution, the serving officer shall not subsequently serve the same execution or a copy thereof upon such financial institution if an electronic direct deposit from a readily identifiable source described in subsection (c) of this section was made to the judgment debtor's account during the look-back period, as described in subsection (c) of this section. If no such deposit was made, the serving officer may subsequently serve the same execution or a copy thereof upon such institution, provided such execution has not expired or otherwise become unenforceable.

(c) If any such financial institution upon which such execution is served and upon which such demand is made is indebted to the judgment debtor, the financial institution shall remove from the judgment debtor's account the amount of such indebtedness not exceeding the amount due on such execution before its midnight deadline, as defined in section 42a-4-104, except that the financial institution shall leave the lesser of the account balance or one thousand dollars in the judgment debtor's account. Notwithstanding the provisions of this subsection, if electronic direct deposits that are readily identifiable as [(1)] exempt federal veterans' benefits [, Social Security benefits, including, but not limited to, retirement, survivors' and disability benefits, supplemental security income benefits, exempt benefits paid by the federal Railroad Retirement Board or the federal Office of Personnel Management, unemployment compensation benefits exempt under section 52-352b, or child support payments processed and received pursuant to Title IV-D of the Social Security Act, or (2) wages] were made to the judgment debtor's account during the look-back period of either the sixty-day period preceding the date that the execution was served on the financial institution, or [, with regard to federal benefits,] such greater period as required by federal law, then the financial institution shall leave the lesser of the account balance or [one] two thousand dollars in the judgment debtor's account. [, provided nothing] Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to limit a financial institution's right or obligation to remove such funds from the judgment debtor's account if required by any other provision of law or by a court order. The judgment debtor shall have full and customary access to such funds left in the judgment debtor's account pursuant to this subsection. The financial institution may notify the judgment creditor that funds have been left in the judgment debtor's account pursuant to this subsection. Nothing in this subsection shall alter the exempt status of funds which are exempt from execution under subsection (a) of this section or under any other provision of state or federal law, or the right of a judgment debtor to claim such exemption. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to affect any other rights or obligations of the financial institution with regard to the funds in the judgment debtor's account.

(d) If any funds are removed from the judgment debtor's account pursuant to subsection (c) of this section, upon receipt of the execution and exemption claim form from the serving officer, the financial institution shall (1) forthwith mail copies thereof, postage prepaid, to the judgment debtor and to any secured party that is party to a control agreement between the financial institution and such secured party under article 9 of title 42a at the last-known address of the judgment debtor and of any such secured party with respect to the affected accounts on the records of the financial institution, and (2) mail notice to the judgment debtor as required by 31 CFR 212.6 and 212.7. The financial institution shall hold the amount removed from the judgment debtor's account pursuant to subsection (c) of this section for fifteen days from the date of the mailing to the judgment debtor and any such secured party, and during such period shall not pay the serving officer.

(e) To prevent the financial institution from paying the serving officer, as provided in subsection (h) of this section, the judgment debtor shall give notice of a claim of exemption by delivering to the financial institution, by mail or other means, the exemption claim form or other written notice that an exemption is being claimed and any such secured party shall give notice of its claim of a prior perfected security interest in such deposit account by delivering to the financial institution, by mail or other means, written notice thereof. The financial institution may designate an address to which the notice of a claim of exemption, or a secured party claim notice, shall be delivered. Upon receipt of such notice, the financial institution shall, within two business days, send a copy of such notice to the clerk of the court which issued the execution.

(f) (1) Upon receipt of an exemption claim form or a secured party claim notice, the clerk of the court shall enter the appearance of the judgment debtor or such secured party with the address set forth in the exemption claim form or secured party claim notice. The clerk shall forthwith send file-stamped copies of the exemption claim form or secured party claim notice to the judgment creditor and judgment debtor with a notice stating that the disputed funds are being held for forty-five days from the date the exemption claim form or secured party claim notice was received by the financial institution or until a court order is entered regarding the disposition of the funds, whichever occurs earlier, and the clerk shall automatically schedule the matter for a short calendar hearing. The claim of exemption filed by such judgment debtor shall be prima facie evidence at such hearing of the existence of the exemption.

(2) Upon receipt of notice from the financial institution pursuant to subsection (c) of this section, a judgment creditor may, on an ex parte basis, present to a judge of the Superior Court an affidavit sworn under oath by a competent party demonstrating a reasonable belief that such judgment debtor's account contains funds which are not exempt from execution and the amount of such nonexempt funds. Such affidavit shall not be conclusory but is required to show the factual basis upon which the reasonable belief is based. If such judge finds that the judgment creditor has demonstrated a reasonable belief that such judgment debtor's account contains funds which are not exempt from execution, such judge shall authorize the judgment creditor to submit a written application to the clerk of the court for a hearing on the exempt status of funds left in the judgment debtor's account pursuant to subsection (c) of this section. The judgment creditor shall promptly send a copy of the application and the supporting affidavit to the judgment debtor and to any secured party shown on a secured party claim notice sent to the judgment creditor pursuant to subdivision (1) of this subsection. Upon receipt of such application, the clerk of the court shall automatically schedule the matter for a short calendar hearing and shall give written notice to the judgment creditor, the judgment debtor and any secured party shown on a secured party claim notice received by the clerk of the court. The notice to the judgment creditor pursuant to subsection (c) of this section shall be prima facie evidence at such hearing that the funds in the account are exempt funds. The burden of proof shall be upon the judgment creditor to establish the amount of funds which are not exempt.

(g) If an exemption claim is made or a secured party claim notice is given pursuant to subsection (e) of this section, the financial institution shall continue to hold the amount removed from the judgment debtor's account for forty-five days or until a court order is received regarding disposition of the funds, whichever occurs earlier. If no such order is received within forty-five days of the date the financial institution sends a copy of the exemption claim form or notice of exemption or a secured party claim notice to the clerk of the court, the financial institution shall return the funds to the judgment debtor's account.

(h) If no claim of exemption or secured party claim notice is received by the financial institution within fifteen days of the mailing to the judgment debtor and any secured party of the execution and exemption claim form pursuant to subsection (d) of this section, the financial institution shall, upon demand, forthwith pay the serving officer the amount removed from the judgment debtor's account, and the serving officer shall thereupon pay such sum, less such serving officer's fees, to the judgment creditor, except to the extent otherwise ordered by a court.

(i) The court, after a hearing conducted pursuant to subsection (f) of this section, shall enter an order determining the issues raised by the claim of exemption and claim by a secured party of a prior perfected security interest in such deposit account. The clerk of the court shall forthwith send a copy of such order to the financial institution. Such order shall be deemed to be a final judgment for the purposes of appeal. No appeal shall be taken except within seven days of the rendering of the order. The order of the court may be implemented during such seven-day period, unless stayed by the court.

(j) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (c) of this section, if both exempt and nonexempt moneys have been deposited into an account, for the purposes of determining which moneys are exempt under this section, the moneys most recently deposited as of the time the execution is served shall be deemed to be the moneys remaining in the account.

(k) The execution, exemption claim form and clerk's notice regarding the filing of a claim of exemption shall be in such form as prescribed by the judges of the Superior Court or their designee. The exemption claim form shall be dated and include a checklist and description of the most common exemptions, instructions on the manner of claiming the exemptions and a space for the judgment debtor to certify those exemptions claimed under penalty of false statement.

(l) If records or testimony are subpoenaed from a financial institution in connection with a hearing conducted pursuant to subsection (f) of this section, the reasonable costs and expenses of the financial institution in complying with the subpoena shall be recoverable by the financial institution from the party requiring such records or testimony, provided, the financial institution shall be under no obligation to attempt to obtain records or documentation relating to the account executed against which are held by any other financial institution. The records of a financial institution as to the dates and amounts of deposits into an account in the financial institution shall, if certified as true and accurate by an officer of the financial institution, be admissible as evidence without the presence of the officer in any hearing conducted pursuant to subsection (f) of this section to determine the legitimacy of a claim of exemption made under this section.

(m) If there are moneys to be removed from the judgment debtor's account, prior to the removal of such moneys pursuant to subsection (c) of this section, the financial institution shall receive from the serving officer as representative of the judgment creditor a fee of eight dollars for the financial institution's costs in complying with the provisions of this section which fee may be recoverable by the judgment creditor as a taxable cost of the action.

(n) If the financial institution fails or refuses to pay over to the serving officer the amount of such debt, not exceeding the amount due on such execution, such financial institution shall be liable in an action therefor to the judgment creditor named in such execution for the amount of nonexempt moneys which the financial institution failed or refused to pay over, excluding funds [of up to one thousand dollars] which the financial institution [in good faith] allowed the judgment debtor to access pursuant to subsection (c) of this section. The amount so recovered by such judgment creditor shall be applied toward the payment of the amount due on such execution. Thereupon, the rights of the financial institution shall be subrogated to the rights of the judgment creditor. If such financial institution pays exempt moneys from the account of the judgment debtor over to the serving officer contrary to the provisions of this section, such financial institution shall be liable in an action therefor to the judgment debtor for any exempt moneys so paid and such financial institution shall refund or waive any charges or fees by the financial institution, including, but not limited to, dishonored check fees, overdraft fees or minimum balance service charges and legal process fees, which were assessed as a result of such payment of exempt moneys. Thereupon, the rights of the financial institution shall be subrogated to the rights of the judgment debtor.

(o) Except as provided in subsection (n) of this section, no financial institution or any officer, director or employee of such financial institution shall be liable to any person with respect to any act done or omitted in good faith or through the commission of a bona fide error that occurred despite reasonable procedures maintained by the financial institution to prevent such errors in complying with the provisions of this section.

(p) Nothing in this section shall in any way restrict the rights and remedies otherwise available to a judgment debtor or any such secured party at law or in equity.

(q) Nothing in this section shall in any way affect any rights of the financial institution with respect to uncollected funds credited to the account of the judgment debtor, which rights shall be superior to those of the judgment creditor.

(r) For the purposes of this subsection, "exempt" has the same meaning as provided in subsection (c) of section 52-352a. Funds deposited in an account that has been established for the express purpose of receiving electronic direct deposits of public assistance or of Title IV-D child support payments from the Department of Social Services shall be exempt.

This act shall take effect as follows and shall amend the following sections:

Section 1

October 1, 2018

52-367b

BA

Joint Favorable

 

The following Fiscal Impact Statement and Bill Analysis are prepared for the benefit of the members of the General Assembly, solely for purposes of information, summarization and explanation and do not represent the intent of the General Assembly or either chamber thereof for any purpose. In general, fiscal impacts are based upon a variety of informational sources, including the analyst's professional knowledge. Whenever applicable, agency data is consulted as part of the analysis, however final products do not necessarily reflect an assessment from any specific department.


OFA Fiscal Note

State Impact: None

Municipal Impact: None

Explanation

The bill makes changes to transactions between private entities and does not result in a fiscal impact to the state or municipalities.

The Out Years

State Impact: None

Municipal Impact: None

OLR Bill Analysis

HB 5491

AN ACT CONCERNING THE AMOUNT OF MONEY FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS MUST LEAVE IN A JUDGMENT DEBTOR'S ACCOUNT DURING A BANK ACCOUNT EXECUTION.

SUMMARY

By law, a creditor may obtain a court-ordered judgment against someone who owes the creditor money (debtor). The creditor may have an execution issued by the court served on any financial institution where the debtor has an account. 

This bill (1) broadens the circumstances in which the bank must leave in the account the lesser of $1,000 or the account balance, (2) increases the amount that must be left in the account if it contains readily identifiable federal veterans' benefits, and (3) modifies a bank's liability if it fails or refuses to pay such an execution.

Existing law, unchanged by the bill, exempts from execution any interest in property up to $1,000 in value (CGS 52-352b(r)).

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2018

EXEMPT FUNDS

Under current law, a bank must leave at least $1,000 in a debtor's account if electronic deposits into the account within the past 60 days are readily identifiable as wages or one of the following exempt benefits:

Under the bill, the bank must automatically leave the lesser of $1,000 or the account balance, regardless of the source of the funds. But if a deposit was made to the account in the 60 days before the execution was served (or longer if federal law requires) that is readily identifiable as federal veterans' benefits, then the bank must leave the lesser of $2,000 or the account balance. (Under federal law, (31 C.F.R. 212.2) all veterans' benefits are exempt from garnishment)).

FINANCIAL INSTITUTION LIABILITY

The bill also changes a financial institution's liability if it fails or refuses to pay such a debt. Under current law, the financial institution is liable to the creditor for the total amount of nonexempt money it failed or refused to pay, excluding up to $1,000 the financial institution in good faith left in the account. The bill makes a conforming change removing the $1,000 limit, thereby excluding any funds left in an account under the bill's provisions. The bill also eliminates language specifying that the financial institution must have left the funds in the account in good faith to qualify for exemption from such liability.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Banking Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

10

Nay

9

(03/20/2018)

TOP