West Virginia Record

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Estate says Putnam County Bank's actions caused business owner to take his own life


By Kyla Asbury | Jun 15, 2019

General court 05

WINFIELD — The estate of the owner of Claxton Smith & Sons Concrete Company is suing Putnam County Bank alleging the bank was the reason the owner took his own life.

Claxton “Jack” Smith Jr. owned the company and dealt with Putnam County Bank almost exclusively for both personal and commercial financing and on Feb. 5, 2014, he entered into a loan agreement for a revolving line of credit line in the amount of $100,649, according to a complaint filed in Putnam Circuit Court.

The original maturity date on the loan was Feb. 5, 2015, but as had been the practice of the bank, the maturity date was extended another year on two occasions, according to the suit.

Patsy Smith, Jack Smith’s wife and the executrix of his estate, claims in 2017, the bank refused to extend the maturity date for another year and instead only extended it for 90 days. The bank also required that the loan be paid in full prior to the maturity date or it would take legal action against the company and Jack Smith.

“The actions of Defendant in failing to extend the loan as had been the Defendant’s past practice placed Jack and Smith Concrete in a position of financial ruin,” the complaint states.

Patsy Smith claims all payments were up to date with regard to the loan and, as a result of the defendant’s acceleration of the loan, both Jack Smith and the company were unable to obtain financing at another financial institution in order to refinance the debt.

“Unfortunately, Jack reached the point of complete despair and saw only one way out in order to protect his family from financial ruin,” the complaint states.

Jack Smith died by suicide on Feb. 18, 2017, and in a note left to his family, he told them his suicide was “strictly a monetary decision,” and that he blamed the bank and felt he had been pushed into a corner.

Patsy Smith claims her husband presumably took his own life so that the family could collect on his life insurance policy in order to prevent foreclosure on his property by the bank.

Later, the Federal Reserve began investigating the bank’s lending practices and in January 2018, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System enters a cease and desist order for the actions of Jeffrey R. Davis, the Vice President of loans at the bank, according to the suit.

Patsy Smith claims the bank is responsible for Davis’s actions and its conduct was fraudulent and improper.

Patsy Smith is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. She is represented by Scott L. Summers of Summers Law Office and David O. Moye of Moye Law Office.

Putnam Circuit Court Case number: 19-C-33

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