The First Triffin Case of 2011

Triffin v. Liccardi Ford, Inc., 417 N.J. Super. 453 (App. Div. 2011).  Robert J. Triffin is in the business of “buying dishonored checks and attempting to collect on them,” as Judge Reisner’s opinion in this case states.  His efforts have been the subject of roughly 20 published New Jersey appellate opinions, plus a number of other not for publication appellate decisions.  A review of those opinions would give any attorney a good basic grounding in the banking provisions of the Uniform Commercial Code.

In this case, the Appellate Division held that Triffin could not be a holder in due course of the check in question.  Holder in due course status requires good faith.  Triffin had, of course, purchased the instrument with notice that it had been dishonored, which would preclude him from holder in due course status.  But if the check cashing service from whom he bought the check were a holder in due course when that service obtained the check, the check cashing service could assign its interest to Triffin, who could then enforce that interest.  But the check cashing service had cashed the check before its issue date.  That premature cashing of a post-dated check violated the Check Cashers Regulatory Act of 1993, N.J.S.A. 17:15A-30 to -52, which negated any good faith by the check cashing service and barred it from being a holder in due course.  Therefore, Triffin’s potential status as holder in due course, which was dependent on his assignor being a holder in due course, evaporated.