New trial for Miami Heat fan mistaken for bank robber

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday ordered a new trial in a bizarre case of a bank teller reporting a robbery because of a customer’s Miami Heat hat.

While the court agreed that Bank of America was negligent for not calling off an alarm before a customer was kicked in the head by a police officer, it said it couldn’t uphold the original $3.3 million jury award because there were mistakes made during jury instructions.

So now Rodolfo Valladares will have to start over if he wants to collect against the bank in a case that began when he walked into a Miami-area branch to cash a $100 check. The teller he approached was shown a photo of a bank robbery suspect that morning. The suspect had a Miami Heat hat that looked like Valladares’ and she panicked and hit the silent alarm.

But Valladares did nothing that otherwise would have a reasonable person think he was robbing the bank. He gave the teller a valid driver’s license and a check with his name on it and chatted about upcoming plans for a Fourth of July cookout.

“The bank had ample information and ample time to know the true facts and to correct the false report, but failed to do so,” the court said in its ruling.

But instead of calling off the alarm, the teller pointed out Valladares when the police burst into the bank. An officer kicked him in the head, causing an injury that still gives Valladares, then 46, blurred vision and headaches.

Once a very social person, Valladares no longer has any friends, was forced to move back in with his parents, has become sexually dysfunctional and suffers fear and anxiety, according to court documents.

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