A Jefferson Circuit Court jury found Branch Banking & Trust (BB&T) guilty of fraud in a trial completed last month and awarded a Louisville couple $10.6 million in damages. BB&T was found to have acted maliciously and was ordered to pay $9 million in punitive damages. Jurors found that Bank of Louisville, which was later acquired by BB&T, used false information in 2002 to persuade Larry and Linda Thompson to consolidate numerous bank loans they had for their real estate business into one mortgage with Bank of Louisville.
The Thompsons claimed that BB&T committed fraud by inducing them into a lending relationship through false representations and then destroyed their business by refusing to allow them to buy real estate, which had been part of their business for the past two decades. The bank originally filed a lawsuit to foreclose against the Thompsons in 2006, and the Thompsons filed a counter-complaint. After a six-day trial, the jury ruled 9-3 in favor of the Thompsons. This case is the first lender-liability case to go to trial in Kentucky in more than a decade. Larry Zielke, a Louisville lawyer, represented the Thompsons and did a very good job.
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