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WB&T respects jury decision but 'disagrees with result' of trial

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By SABRINA GARRETT
The Wilson Post

Wilson Bank & Trust CEO Randall Clemons said in a statement issued Friday that the bank respectfully disagrees with the result deliberated by jurors in Rutherford County Chancery Court this past week and is considering all options available to it at this time, including a potential appeal of the verdict to the Tennessee Court of Appeals.

On Thursday, jurors awarded $3.6 million in punitive damages to real estate developer Ken Howell, who filed a lawsuit in 2009 alleging that former WB&T Murfreesboro Branch president, Stan Hayes, committed fraud and forgery.

The Murfreesboro Post reported that 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.

Jurors also awarded Howell $3.9 million in compensatory damages -- $2.9 million of which went to his businesses, Richmonds Retreat and Stones River Homes.

According to reports, Howell successfully claimed that his companies were forced to dissolve after Wilson Bank & Trust foreclosed on loans that were directly impacted by unlawful activity.

In 2008, we learned that Mr. Hayes had improperly handled isolated business transactions. Wilson Bank & Trust has addressed each instance of Mr. Hayes actions, and to the best of our ability, we have attempted to resolve all of the issues he created, the statement from Wilson Bank & Trust read.

One of those instances involved Kendall Howell and two companies of which he was a part. Wilson Bank & Trust was not able to reach a resolution of the matter involving Mr. Howell and in 2009, a lawsuit was filed seeking the resolution of this matter by jury.

However, since the jury returned a verdict in Howells favor, Wilson Bank could end up appealing the verdict as said in the statement issued.

Our decision will be guided by our desire to have a fair and just resolution of this matter. Wilson Bank & Trust values the respect and confidence given to us by our employees, customers and shareholders. We will continue to stand by our mission statement to be a responsible business that renders high-quality service and to always operate the bank in a sound manner.

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