Bank, attorney at odds over payment of loan

By Lawrence Smith | Aug 8, 2008

CHARLESTON – A Charleston attorney says he is baffled as to why, despite making regular and timely payments, he's been named a co-defendant in a lawsuit alleging he "defaulted" on a nearly $500,000 loan.

CHARLESTON – A Charleston attorney says he is baffled as to why, despite making regular and timely payments, he's been named a co-defendant in a lawsuit alleging he "defaulted" on a nearly $500,000 loan.

On July 25, Huntington National Bank filed suit in Kanawha Circuit Court against Mark Hunt, his former law partner, Tony Serreno and one of their professional firms, Hunt and Serreno PLLC. In the two-count complaint and suit, filed with the assistance of Arthur M. Standish and James D. Meadows with the Charleston law firm of Steptoe and Johnson, HNB says the attorneys and the firm defaulted on a $403,030 commercial loan extended to them via a promissory note on March 30, 2007.

Records show, as part of the loan, HNB executed a Commercial Security Agreement that allowed them to obtain interest in Hunt and Serreno's "inventory, equipment, accounts, chattel, paper, interest and other items."

"[The parties have] failed and refused to make payments due and owing pursuant to the terms of the note which constitutes an Event of Default under the Note," the suit alleges.

Due to the default, HNB alleges it lost $416,460.85 -- $396,030 in unpaid principal, $20,189.26 in accrued interest and $241.59 in late fees as of July 24. As damages it asking for $416.460.85 "together with pre-judgment interest thereon from July 24, post-judgment interest and the Bank's costs and attorney's fees."

When contacted, Hunt said unequivocally that the loan was in no way in default. Instead, HNB called the loan.

"Why did the bank call it?" Hunt asked. "I don't know."

Hunt acknowledged he and Serreno secured the loan both personally and as officers of Hunt and Serreno PLLC. The loan, Hunt said, was your "garden variety" revolving loan to help in the operation of the business over the next 10 years.

Though Hunt and Serreno, PLLC is still in existence, they are no longer law partners. According to Hunt, they parted company amicably late last year "due to the downturn in the economy."

Hunt now operates the firm as Hunt and Associates and Serreno practices with the Legato Law Group in Charleston.

In any even, Hunt maintains that all the required payments were made. In fact, he says he made a payment to HNB the day before it was called.

"There is absolutely no reason to call a loan that was not late," Hunt said. "I figured I've paid them $50,000 and I was rewarded with the loan being called and a lawsuit."

Though he vows to vigorously fight the suit, if necessary, Hunt says he hopes a settlement can be reached.

"What I would like is for the bank to allow me to make my payments and move on," Hunt said.

The case has been assigned to Judge James C. Stucky.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 08-C-1441

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