Whose Card Is It Anyway?

American Express National Bank v. Sherwood
Dallas Court of Appeals, No. 05-20-00153-CV (January 27, 2022)
Justices Osborne (opinion available here), Reichek, and Carlyle
American Express brought suit against Christopher Sherwood to collect amounts it alleged were due on two credit card accounts. The trial court entered a take-nothing judgment against American Express, finding the bank had failed to prove it owned the accounts at issue. American Express appealed.

The Dallas Court of Appeals carefully reviewed the evidence presented by American Express to determine whether it conclusively proved its right to recover on the two accounts. Although American Express put on testimony from a custodian of records that the outstanding account balances were owed on accounts opened by Sherwood and owned by American Express, many questions remained. For example, there was no evidence explaining why the account number on one of the cards changed from one ending in 62009 to one ending in 61001. Despite the bank witness’s testimony that he was “one hundred percent” confident the two accounts were for the same card, there was no documentation showing the reason for the change in account numbers. The other card had originated with Citibank. The bank witness testified that American Express “took over the Citibank Hilton portfolio,” but there was no documentation of any transfer or assignment of the account at issue. In addition, there was a balance due when the account was allegedly transferred from Citibank to American Express, and American Express did not have any documentation of the Citibank charges that resulted in that balance. Even though Sherwood testified at trial and did not deny those charges were his, the Court held “Sherwood’s silence does not provide affirmative evidence that was otherwise lacking.”

In the end, American Express could not connect all the dots proving its right to collect on either card, and the take-nothing judgment was affirmed.
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