Bank tells shareholders it will aggressively collect $300 million debt from Justice and his businesses

The bank laying claim to $300 million from Gov. Jim Justice and his family companies is telling its shareholders that it will aggressively move to collect.

“As with all its customers, Carter Bank expects to be repaid by the Justice Entities in full all amounts due and owing although the timing of such payment in full in these matters is presently indeterminate,” bank officials wrote in a statement to stockholders formally filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The statement continued by saying, “Carter Bank plans to pursue aggressively all remedies afforded it to collect all amounts due and owing by the Justice Entities.”

Carter Bank wants to cash in roughly $300 million in defaulted loans, holding out signed guarantees to say the Justices should pay up.

The debts were personally-guaranteed by Jim Justice, his wife Cathy and their son Jay, who runs the family’s coal operations. The debts applied to several branches of the family’s business network, including Greenbrier Hotel Corporation.

A circuit judge in Martinsville, Va., the venue for the debt dispute, filed a memorandum this week that rejected the Justice arguments against the debt claim. Judge Carter Greer concluded that the Justices had not laid out an adequately factual defense.

Carter Bank in April filed to collect on confessed judgments adding up to $302 million, plus interest and attorneys fees, in the local court in Virginia. The claims cited the personal guarantees by the Justices.

The confessions of judgment are written and signed agreements accepting liability in instances of default. In such circumstances, the note may be presented to the court without even notifying the debtor or having a hearing. By signing, borrowers may sacrifice their right to be heard in court.

The confessed judgments filed by Carter Bank apply to loans on James C. Justice Companies, Justice Family Group, Greenbrier Hotel Corp., Greenbrier Golf and Tennis Club, Greenbrier Sporting Club, Players Club LLC, Oakhurst Club, Greenbrier Medical Institute, Justice Low Seam Mining, Twin Fir Estates and Wilcox Industries.

Those loans had come due April 15.

Lawyers for Justice’s companies responded by filing motions to set aside the confessed judgments in the 11 cases.

The filings contended that enforcing the judged confessions is a radical step and that the Justice companies deserve a chance to offer a more detailed defense. And the Justices contended that Carter Bank engaged in unfair business practices, with such restrictive lending terms that the Justice business strategy was smothered.

Judge Greer disagreed: “The defendants offer sparse analysis as to how these defenses are either adequate or dispositive.”

In a hearing last month in Greer’s courtroom, lawyers representing Justice pointed toward their separate federal lawsuit that contends Carter has engaged in unfair business practices.

The legal team for Justice handed the judge a printout of the heavily-redacted complaint in the federal case.

The federal case is still active in the Southern District of West Virginia, with Carter arguing that the venue is inappropriate because the bank, its board and the Justice business operations are mostly in Virginia.

In the Martinsville, Va., courtroom, Judge Greer concluded the facts were not apparent to support the Justice defense against the claims.

Carter Bank’s statement to shareholders made reference to the distinction between the judgment in local court and the federal dispute.

“This Circuit Court proceeding predates and is separate and apart from the Complaint filed by the Justice Entities against Carter Bank in federal district court in West Virginia on November 10, 2023,” bank officials wrote. “That Complaint contains false and misleading claims that Carter Bank will vigorously defend in due course.”

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