O'Fallon law firm sues Commerce Bank over actual interest

Kelly Holleran Oct. 26, 2011, 1:32am


A law firm that borrowed money from Commerce Bank claims it spent more money on interest than the bank originally represented it would charge.

Kujawski and Associates, Kujawski and Nowak and John P. Kujawski filed a lawsuit Oct. 20 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against Commerce Bank.

In their complaint, the plaintiffs allege they agreed to take out multiple loans with Commerce Bank after the bank quoted them low annual interest rates. However, the rates were lower than what the bank actually charged the company, according to the complaint.

"In enticing the Plaintiffs into consenting to the Bank's preparation of their loan documents, the Bank concealed from the Plaintiffs the material fact that it intended to insert boilerplate language into Plaintiffs' loan documents and that the Bank would later deprive the Plaintiffs of their bargained for annual or per annum interest rate by entitling the Bank to charge interest in excess of the parties' agreed upon fixed or initial annual interest rate clearly stated in the Plaintiffs' notes," the suit states.

In the more than 25 commercial loan documents the bank drew up for the plaintiffs between 1995 and 2006, it intentionally inconspicuously defined the company's interest rate as an additional 101.4 percent of the annual index rate it initially described in a Variable Interest Rate paragraph, the complaint says. It did this by calculating a calendar year at less than the 365 days that is in a typical year, according to the complaint.

"Under the terms of their Promissory Notes and Loan Agreements prepared by the Bank, as those terms are commonly understood, the Bank charged more interest than it was legally entitled to charge and did it in a deceptive manner," the suit states.

The plaintiffs want the court to award them statutory and common law damages, to declare the promissory notes and the loan documents invalid and to demand the bank refund them all the interest they have paid to the bank. In addition, they seek attorney's fees, pre-judgment interest at nine percent, compensatory and exemplary damages, equitable relief and other relief the court deems just.

In their complaint, the plaintiffs allege breach of contract, misrepresentation and fraud and violations of the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act against the bank.

Christopher W. Byron of Byron, Carlson, Petri and Kalb in Edwardsville will be representing them.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 11-L-595.

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