The local office of a national bank has reached the end of its negotiating rope and has decided to file a lawsuit against a Nashville lawyer in federal court — the first step in collecting nearly $3 million in unpaid loans originally procured, ostensibly, for an unrealized commercial property development.
On June 12, SunTrust Bank — represented by Stites & Harbison attorney Madison Martin — filed a complaint  in Nashville’s Middle District Court, seeking a judgment against well–known litigator Robert L. Trentham, now with the Butler, Snow, O’Mara, Stevens & Cannada PLLC law firm’s recently opened Nashville office. Trentham was one of the group of Miller & Martin attorneys who, earlier this month, exited the beleaguered firm for the halls of Butler Snow. That story is linked here .
Trentham wasn’t aware the lawsuit had been filed. That’s not surprising given the time of its filing, as official notice to Trentham will occur later, most likely today.
Trentham said loan negotiations had been “going on a while” but apparently unsuccessfully given the bank’s action.
“We’ve been talking for quite some time, and we have a disagreement over the amounts owed," Trentham said. "And they’ve chosen to take it to the next level.”
Martin declined to comment specifically on the case, citing firm policy, but confirmed there’d been several efforts to settle the matter with Trentham.
On Oct. 12, 2005, SunTrust loaned Trentham $2 million and “took back” a commercial note as collateral. That loan, later amended and restated several times, was later combined with a second loan, made for the same reason, for a commercial development that never began. The complaint details the circuitous route this transaction took, ending with this lawsuit and Trentham owing $2,815,820.19, with that figure increasing daily as interest accrues.
As of June 11, the complaint states Trentham owes $919,705.17 (Note A) and $1,896,415.02 (Note B) comprising the $2,815,820.19.
SunTrust wants the court to render a judgment against Trentham “in an amount equal to the unpaid balance of the Notes, including without limitation principal, interest accruing through the date of judgment, and costs of collection, including attorney fees and other costs to enforce collection….totaling 15 percent.”
That 15 percent — which would be at least $422,000 — is part of Stites’ strategy as the court’s anticipated favorable ruling doesn’t mean Trentham will pay, requiring collection efforts and more attorney time hence the request now.