Defendants in a lawsuit connected to the financial difficulties of Judson College filed a motion to dismiss the case today (Sept. 28).
The plaintiff — Frank C. Mann, a businessman from Winston County — was part of a group of bond holders who put up $11,230,000 in 2010 to assist Judson officials with financial needs at the time. Mann purchased a $1 million bond and is suing to recover his investment.
His suit was filed July 15 in the 10th Judicial Court Circuit of Alabama in Jefferson County and named the following as defendants:
Judson trustees — Charles F. Dunkin, Roy A. Barnett Jr., Bruce Fuller, Judith Karen Favor and Joan Vignes Newman, who serves as the current chair of the board of trustees. Dunkin, Barnett, Fuller and Favor were trustees in 2010; Newman was not.
Judson president — Daphne Rudicell Robinson, who served as a trustee in 2010.
Former Judson staff member and general counsel — Joseph W. “Bill” Mathews, who served at the school for about a decade beginning in 2008.
Others — the Alabama Baptist State Convention, the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions and Rick Lance, SBOM executive director. (To read a response from SBOM leaders, click here.)
Legal representatives of the defendants are seeking to dismiss the case “in its entirety” for a host of reasons, including the statutes of limitations, the individual defendants’ immunity from suits and the language of the bond instruments.
Judson reportedly paid promised semiannual interest payments on schedule every year since selling the bonds in 2010, at least until the school closed July 31, 2021. Mann alleges the Oct. 1, 2021, and April 1, 2022, interest payments were not made and believes bond holders were misled about the security of the bonds, which were set to mature serially between 2011 and 2040. Information on how many bonds exist and who invested in them was not readily available, but Mann’s complaint states the current outstanding principal balance is $9,030,000.
Judson administrators are still attempting to sell the campus to fulfill the bonds’ interest payments and final payout as well as clear unpaid loans at three banking institutions. Judson’s debt reportedly totaled more than $15 million when it closed. Efforts are being made to reach Judson officials regarding a financial status update.
Other suits filed
With Judson not being named in the suit, the president, former staff member and five current board members named are represented by individual attorneys. Judson attorneys Ethan Tidmore and Wood Herron are monitoring the case as well as handling lawsuits specific to Judson.
The college was named in two suits filed in September. Three banks in Perry County filed a suit Sept. 12 related to $5.2 million in unpaid loans. Regions Bank filed a suit Sept. 19 connected to the more than $9 million in outstanding bonds (the same set of bonds referred to by Mann) “plus accrued interest, fees and costs that continue to accrue.”