A Rutherford County jury awarded nearly $4 million Wednesday to a local real estate developer who sued Wilson Bank & Trust over allegations that a former bank president committed fraud and forgery to the detriment of two companies.
Finding that Wilson Bank acted recklessly, jurors awarded developer Ken Howell $3.9 million in compensatory damages for failing to prevent, and subsequently, resolve financial issues that arose from the alleged actions of Stan Hayes, who is the former president of the Murfreesboro branch.
Part of that sum includes $2.9 million for Richmond’s Retreat and Stones River Homes, both of which Howell successfully claimed were forced to dissolve after Wilson Bank foreclosed on loans that were directly impacted by the unlawful activity.
Under the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act, jurors have also ordered Wilson Bank to pay nearly $1.5 million for allowing unfair and deceptive business practices to occur while Hayes was employed with the company.
Jurors have yet to decide how much money Howell should receive in punitive damages.
The jury will resume deliberations on Thursday, March 21, to determine whether Howell should receive the $15 million he is seeking in punitive damages, which are considered separately under Tennessee law.
Throughout the trial, defense attorneys representing Wilson Bank have contended Hayes is solely to blame for the fraudulent activity because he acted as a rogue employee and concealed his actions from fellow executives.