MISSOULA, Mont., April 27, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- A Missoula County District Court denied First Interstate Bank's post-trial motions to overrule the 17 million dollar jury verdict against it, possibly bringing to a close a six-year battle started when First Interstate took $762,000 out of Kelly's checking account to pay off a bank loan that was current, and contrary to representations First Interstate made to the Kelly's about its intention to help them obtain those funds from a State loan program so the company could survive the Great Recession. In August 2014, the jury unanimously found First Interstate liable for all of the claims against it, and awarded Kelly $286,550 in compensatory damages and $16,760,000 in punitive damages. In denying First Interstate's post-trial motions, the district court that heard the case agreed completely with the jury's finding, and enforced the loan agreement by requiring the Bank to pay Kelly's legal expenses.
The Kelly's founded their company in the late 1950s and grew the business into Montana's largest logging company, employing as many as 50 workers. In 2013, Kelly was forced to shut down because of First Interstate's wrongful actions. Jerry Kelly said, "The money the Bank took from our account was stimulus money designed to save timber industry jobs. It was not meant as a bank bailout bill, but that's how First Interstate used it. We hope and pray the Bank will make full restitution to Kelly Logging so that we may finally put the money to the work it was intended for. Our employees and this community deserve it."
David Paoli and Tim Strauch, Co-counsel for Kelly, expressed serious concerns about further litigation tactics and delay by First Interstate. Noting the statements attributable to First Interstate's CEO in a news release, Paoli said, "It is First Interstate that is mistaken. The jury has clearly spoken and the Judge said the jury was right. First Interstate should act as a responsible citizen and listen to what has been said, correct its wrongs, and allow Kelly Logging and its employees to get back to work. Unfortunately, it appears the Bank wants to continue to fight." Strauch added: "We have proven again that trial by jury is the only way local businesses can survive in the clinches with the defiant big banks."
SOURCE Strauch Law Firm, PLLC