The suit was heard in front of Cobb Superior Court Judge Robert Flournoy, who was appointed by Barnes when he was governor.
The trial, which lasted from Dec. 14 to Jan. 9, revolved around a $30 million loan the credit union granted Florida developer David Pearson, an investor with a net worth of about $100 million. When Pearson attempted to draw on that loan to buy up property in the Florida Panhandle near the exclusive Seaside community, the credit union blocked him, costing him the deal.
In the 132-page opinion he issued Friday, Flournoy said the credit union “went to great lengths to either misapply loan payments or to allow misapplications to remain uncorrected so that a payment default” on the loan would occur. He also said the credit union initially refused to turn over hundreds of documents, prompting the court to order a search of Delta’s computers.
An attorney for the credit union notes that damages were not awarded based on the failure to turn over documents or accept loan payments, but because of the lost opportunity to buy real estate.
Flournoy described the credit union as the largest of its kind in Georgia and one of the largest in the U.S., with more than $4 billion in assets and a net worth of about $440 million.
Bentley said it was one of the largest judgments in the county’s history.
“We’re certainly pleased with the ruling, and we’re studying it to determine what if any future action we’ll take,” he said.
Delta Community Credit Union CEO Rick Foley sent out a Wednesday email, saying they would appeal the judgment.
“We’re obviously upset that any amount was granted to the plaintiff, but we are particularly upset by an award of this size,” Foley said. “We think it’s unwarranted and contrary to the facts or applicable law. We will file an appeal and believe we have a strong legal basis for doing so.
But Foley said it was important not to get distracted or speculate beyond what is known.
“We believe the judgment will not impact the credit union’s ability to continue to meet all of its obligations,” he wrote. “Our credit union is well capitalized and has sufficient reserves to cover the cost of the award, if necessary.”