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Bank Must Pay $1 Mil to Frmr Mortgage Executive

A bank in the Midwest has lost an appeal of a judgment requiring it to pay a former mortgage executive nearly $1 million.

Frank Sommese II was hired in April 2008 as a regional vice president by American Bank & Trust Company, N.A.

The Davenport, Iowa, financial institution brought Sommese on to recruit loan originators to generate business in the Chicago area.

Sommese’s contract called for him to receive 12 percent of monthly net revenue from mortgage production in the Chicago area. He also was to be paid between 40 percent and 52 percent of revenue generated from note sales to other businesses.

But the executive claims that the bank didn’t pay him the amount owed according to the employment contract, and he resigned in December 2010.

Sommese then filed a lawsuit in the Iowa District Court for Scott County against American Bank. He alleges that the bank skimmed money from the revenues before calculating his commissions. In addition, he claims that the bank tried to limit eligible earnings to the city of Chicago instead of the entire metropolitan area.

American Bank denied both allegations.

In December 2012, a jury awarded Sommese $997,274 for his breach of contract claim.

The bank unsuccessfully contested the decision because e-mails and other internal documents weren’t allowed to be submitted as evidence.

American Bank then filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals of Iowa.

“On appeal, ABT asks this court to vacate the jury’s verdict on Sommese’s breach-of-contract claim because the court’s exclusion of those documents was improper and substantially affected ABT’s rights,” court documents state.

But the appeals court found that the lower court was correct in excluding the documents and on Thursday affirmed the decision.

“We conclude the district court did not abuse its discretion in excluding the chain of emails, the new-hire form, the payroll form, and the transition agreement as irrelevant or otherwise excludable under rule 5.403,” the decision stated. “We further find no substantial rights of ABT were affected. Consequently, we affirm the district court ruling and the jury’s verdicts.”

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