Kari Valence Oct. 12, 2015, 8:37pm


Several St. Clair County residents are suing a bank and appraisal firm after property values allegedly plummeted, forcing them to take on new partners and forgo ownership.

Benjamin R. Brown, Roberta L. Brown, Billy Joe Foutch, Madonna Foutchm and Mascoutah Land Trust #5 together filed the lawsuit in St. Clair County Circuit Court on Sept. 11 against Kenworth C. Johnston, Kenworth Johnston Appraisals, and Commerce Bank, N.A.

The plaintiffs claim they took out a loan and purchased a mortgage on a piece of land intending to redevelop the property as a senior living community for people 55 years old and older. The group claims they were later told the property value had fallen below what was owed on the note.

They claim this forced them to take on new partners, who in turn paid the note in full, in exchange for a third share interest in their partnership. The plaintiffs claim they would never have each had less than a fifty percent share of the land per couple if not for the faulty conduct of the bank and appraisal firm, the suit states.

The plaintiffs seek an amount in excess of $50,000 from each defendant , plus costs, litigation expenses and attorney's fees. They are represented in this case by Eric M. Rhein of Belleville.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 15-L-513

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