MIAMI – A 2006 case involving an investment has ended concluded, but a 2014 case from the complaint that includes a closed safe-deposit box remains in pleading.

Appellant Luz Mery Salcedo resolved matters with the widow of Felix Rodriquez, whose estate Salcedo sued for more than $1 million for a failed 2003 investment, but Wells Fargo is accused of closing a safe-deposit box that allegedly held vital documents concerning the past case. 

The 3rd District Court of Appeal has ruled though the 2006 case between Maria Renzi de Rodriquez is closed, Salcedo's 2014 case against Wells Fargo is still at the pleadings stage, which allows Salcedo to argue negligence on behalf of the bank for closing out a safe-deposit box with garnishment account information.

“Wells Fargo will be entitled to raise any affirmative defenses it may have, and discovery may shed light on Wells Fargo’s error and the property allowed to be removed from the safe deposit box,” the court wrote.

In the 2006 case, Salcedo attempted to recover $1.025 million she had invested with Felix Rodriguez. A writ of garnishment was served to Renzi, and “Wells Fargo filed an amended answer as garnishee disclosing two bank accounts a safe deposit box,” according to the opinion. Renzi still had the right “to enter the safe deposit box until Wells Fargo was served with the writ of garnishment and placed the hold on the box and its contents.”

But that never happened. When Salcedo attempted to attain the financial records she needed from the safe-deposit bank at the branch, “the contents of the safe deposit box had been removed and Ms. Renzi’s account closed—well after Wells Fargo was served with the writ of garnishment,” the opinion states.

Afterward, Renzi filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and Salcedo filed an adversary complaint objecting to Renzi’s discharge but later dropped the charge for a release of indebtedness. Although Wells Fargo maintains that Renzi’s discharge included the judgment against her, “Ms. Salcedo argues that the claim against Wells Fargo accrued before Ms. Renzi’s discharge was obtained, and that it is an independent claim to recover the value of funds or property taken from the safe deposit box that was on ‘hold,’ in the garnishment and that would have been turned over to Ms. Salcedo 'but for' Wells Fargo’s mistake," according to court records. 

Salcedo’s complaint was then dismissed with prejudice, and the matter was taken to the 3rd District Court of Appeal. 

“The more difficult question in the present case is how Ms. Salcedo can establish the value of any property in the safe deposit box when Wells Fargo negligently permitted the property to be removed and the box to be closed,” according to the appeals court decision.  

According to Salcedo, without the safe-deposit box, she could not prove what she needed to collect the debt owed her before Renzi filed bankruptcy. 

“That claim, and those facts, have not previously been adjudicated so far as is revealed in the record before us. We express no opinion as to the ultimate merits or result of the 2014 Case on remand,” the panel of judges ruled, adding the case is remains on remand for the claim.

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