SIOUX CITY -- A federal jury has awarded more than $4.5 million to a retired Akron, Iowa, businessman who had sued a Minnesota-based bank for fraud in an effort to keep a local auto dealership in business.
At the conclusion of a four-day trial in U.S. District Court in Sioux City, the jury on Thursday found Heritage Bank, of Spicer, Minnesota, guilty of fraudulent misrepresentation. Jurors awarded John Lucken $4 million in punitive damages, $500,000 for fraud and $45,000 for a bank statutory violation committed by Heritage Bank.
"I'm glad a jury of my peers vindicated my actions and held the bank accountable for lying to me," Lucken said in a news release from the Davis Brown Law Firm, of Des Moines, whose attorneys Stan Thompson and Jason Lawrence represented Lucken.
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In 2011, a Heritage Bank loan officer asked Lucken to help Dirks Motor Co. stay in business. Jurors found that the bank intentionally gave false information to Lucken to convince him to loan the company $500,000, half to settle a debt owed by the dealership and half to "back up" the bank's financing of the dealership.
Heritage Bank never loaned the funds to Dirks Motor, according to the news release. The dealership failed and was forced to close. Total Motors, of Le Mars, Iowa, now operates the dealership.
Lucken sued Heritage Bank in 2016.