A Jackson County Judge entered a $16.3 million verdict against The People’s National Bank of McLeansboro today in a case that spanned 14 years.
The Honorable Judge Christy Solverson of Jackson County found that People’s National Bank had breached its fiduciary duty and illegally converted assets held for the benefit of two Southern Illinois businessmen.
In the 29-page Judgment, Judge Solverson found that the Bank had engaged in “repeated and intentional conduct” with “knowledge that said conduct would result in harm” to Bob and Terry Newman.
The judgment found that People’s National Bank converted a Letter of Credit held for the benefit of the Newmans to its own use. It also states that the Bank failed to provide notice to the Newmans of the Banks use of the Letter of Credit and that it denied the Newmans access to information, despite repeated requests by the Newmans.
As a result of the Bank’s conduct, the Court awarded over 6.5 million dollars in compensatory damages and more than 9.8 million dollars in punitive damages. According to the judgement, “the Bank’s conduct was intentional and repeated and perpetrated with knowledge of the likely and significant harm that would befall the Newmans.”
The Court added, “The Bank proximately caused that emotional distress by failing to provide information, leaving the Newmans to speculate on the condition of the company, despite their effort to gain information from the Bank, using forged documents to leave the Newmans responsible, without their knowledge, for over $800,000 of indebtedness. . .”
Lead counsel for the Newmans, Bill Tapella, originally from Herrin, Illinois, with his office in Charleston, Illinois, stated that, “Judge Solverson issued an important ruling for Southern Illinois consumers. Judge Solverson’s judgment demonstrates that, under our laws, no matter who you are or how big you are, you do not have the right to take advantage of others. I am thrilled for Bob and Terry Newman. Bob and Terry Newman are two of the most decent, hard-working people I know. This is truly an important victory for Bob, Terry, and all of those who do business with the banking industry.”