FORT WALTON BEACH — Beach Community Bank has been ordered to pay $6.1 million to a trust created by the family of a former member of its board of directors.
The jury verdict on behalf of the Shauney Irrevocable Trust et al., handed down earlier this month, is a single ruling in what Shauney attorney Robert Beasley described as “really two simultaneous trials.”
Now the judge must determine how much, if any, money is owed to the bank by the trust.
“The jury tried Shauney’s claims against the bank,” Beasley said. “Now the judge has to determine what Shauney owes the bank.”
The family of the late Art Schweizer, who is still listed as a “director emeritus” on the Beach Community Bank website, created the trust. The Schweizer family and the bank have been tied up in court on the case since 2013, and court records indicate Beach Community filed the first lawsuit to collect on a $12.6 million loan it claimed the Shauney Irrevocable Trust had defaulted upon.
The trust attorneys contend that the Schweizer family owes nothing.
Beasley said the bank and the Shauney Irrevocable Trust were for some time manipulating money through what he called “the big loan” to try to return the bank to fiscal health. The lawsuits began after differences arose over how the trust wanted to invest some of its money.
“The parties got into a disagreement over how the Shauney Trust could use its own money,” Beasley said. “The bank placed artificial restrictions on the money, requiring the trust use it to benefit the bank.”
Jurors agreed with Shauney Trust lawyers that Beach Community Bank “did interfere with Shauney’s receipt of the ... benefits” of a contractual agreement and did “breach” an amendment contained within the loan agreement.
Beach Community Bank President Tony Hughes called the jury’s verdict “preliminary” and said Okaloosa County Circuit Judge William Stone will eventually issue a final judgment in the case.
“There is no ‘judgment’ at this point, only a verdict and that verdict is literally only involving a piece of a foreclosure action,” Hughes said in an email. “It literally is half the story. All will be clearer once the judge issues his final judgment, but that could be literally several weeks or months away. It’s completely possible the judge throws out the entire verdict.”
Post-trial motions are due to Stone in “a couple of weeks,” Hughes said, and another hearing will be held after that. He said the bank will appeal any ruling that determines the Shauney trust is owed money.
Beasley acknowledged a final judgment on behalf of the bank of greater than $6.1 million could place the Shauney Trust in the position of owing Beach Community Bank a financial settlement.