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The National Bank Act and Venue: How Enforcing a Little Known Provision Can Move a Lawsuit to a More

Florida is a well-known consumer-friendly state and some Florida judges have a reputation for ruling against financial institutions, including national banks. With a downturn in Florida foreclosure cases filed, some Florida consumer attorneys have made it their mission to file questionable lawsuits against financial institutions, including national banks.

Unbeknownst to many Florida consumer attorneys, the National Bank Act has a mandatory venue provision, codified in 12 U.S.C.A. §94, requiring that all lawsuits against a national bank must be brought before a court where the national bank’s principal place of business is located. Unfortunately, the federal venue privilege is deemed waived if not immediately raised.

In National Bank of North America v. Associates of Obstetrics & Female Surgery, Inc., the United States Supreme Court “held that the provision in s. 94 concerning venue in state, county, or municipal courts is not permissive, but mandatory and, therefore, ‘that national banks may be sued only in those state courts in the county where the banks are located.”’ 425 U.S. 460, 461 (1976) (quoting Mercantile Nat. Bank v. Langdeau, 371 U.S. 555 (1963); Michigan Nat. Bank v. Robertson, 372 U.S. 591 (1963)). In Landmark Bank of Wrest Broward, N.A., v. Giroux, the Florida Supreme Court held that “[t]he venue provisions of Section 94 are mandatory, but any national bank may waive its federal venue privilege.” 358 So. 2d 180, 181 (Fla. 1978)(internal citations omitted).

If a lawsuit is filed against a national bank in Florida, it is usually in the national bank’s best interest in order to invoke the federal venue privilege and seek to have the lawsuit transferred and/or re-filed in a court where the national bank’s principal place of business is located. A local court will likely be familiar with the national bank and the vital role it plays to its community’s economy.

Founded in 1997, Gill Law Firm represents small, medium and large corporations in commercial debt recovery, small business and nonprofit startups throughout the state of Florida. To find out how the firm may help your company, please contact A. Wayne Gill, Esq. via email at or by phone at (561) 454-0301.

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