The Washington Post

U.S. judge writes colorful ruling in throwing out suit against bank

Was the Nevada woman wronged by a Swiss bank seeking to hide evidence that might link her to a bank account holding $14 million? Or did she make it all up in the hopes of getting her hands on the cash?

Ruling in a lawsuit brought by the woman against the bank, Chief U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth ruled Monday that it wasn’t for him to answer such questions because his court simply didn’t have jurisdiction to resolve the dispute.

Still, Lamberth — a judge on the District’s federal court known for his colorful use of language — appears to have enjoyed writing the 13-page decision that threw out the case. Here is his introduction, in full:

“Fourteen million dollars can make people do crazy things,” the opinion begins. “According to plaintiff Tonya Kay Day, $14 million motivated a Swiss bank and its Bahamian subsidiary to bury any evidence of a bank account opened by a Kansas woman and her oil-baron lover in the 1970s, triggered a vitriolic assault against Ms. Day by the bank’s manager in response to her attempts to uncover the truth, led the largest law firm in the Bahamas to engage in a duplicitous scheme to dupe Ms. Day into revealing personal confidences, and launched a public smear campaign in the Bahamian media.”

“Or $14 million might drive someone to invent such a story,” Lamberth continued. “Ms. Day may be a helpless victim tilting against powerful and shadowy international banking forces, or, as a Las Vegas resident, may be simply drawing blind, hoping to come up Aces.

“It’s sometimes difficult to say. But in either case, a federal district court located in the District of Columbia has no role to play in a dispute pitting a Nevada citizen against a Swiss bank and its Bahamas-based subsidiary, manager and law firm, where the prize is $14 million that once purportedly belonged to a Kansas woman. For this simple reason, the Court will dismiss this case.”


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