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Florida bankruptcy dispute ensnares U.S. Bank
By: Jennifer Bjorhus
“A jury has awarded a Miami businessman $6 million after finding that U.S. Bank and its equipment finance arm acted in bad faith when they pushed him into involuntary bankruptcy.
The unusual verdicts, which include $5 million in punitive damages, were filed in recent weeks in U.S. District Court in Miami. Lawyers for the businessman say the punitive damages are the largest in history for such a case.
While the decisions don’t end a prolonged dispute between the Minneapolis-based bank and businessman Maury Rosenberg, they illustrate a bare-knuckled side of an above-the-fray lender often regarded as one of the best-run banks in the country.
The jurors awarded Rosenberg $6.12 million in damages: $5 million in punitive damages and $1.12 million for such things as emotional distress. To award punitive damages the jurors had to find that the bank acted with malice or that its actions were particularly egregious. U.S. Bank is also on the hook for Rosenberg’s estimated $3.9 million in legal expenses.
In closing arguments Yale Galanter, the criminal defense lawyer Rosenberg hired for the trial, said the jurors should award punitive damages high enough to be “a wake-up call” to an institution with a net worth of $38 billion. Though jurors awarded far less, Rosenberg’s lawyers are proclaiming total victory.”
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