Construction project leads to suit against bank

By John Suayan, Galveston Bureau | Aug 29, 2011

GALVESTON - Alleging Patriot Bank committed financial misconduct which endangered their construction project, Ronald Pucek and Monte Bello Ventures LLC are pursuing legal action.

A lawsuit filed Aug. 16 in Galveston County District Court claims the financial institution paid a local contractor proceeds from a $750,000 construction loan it lent plaintiff Monte Bello though no work was performed on a residence in the 300 block of Terra Nova Court in Friendswood.

The three litigants reportedly entered an agreement which required Pucek and Monte Bello to personally guarantee the repayment of the loan, while Patriot Bank retained control of the disbursements.

The original petition shows Patriot remitted more than $40,000 to Noe Kent Saldana, doing business as Saldana Custom Homes, without conducting proper inspections of the property as the project progressed.

Saldana is not a defendant in the case.

The plaintiffs assert the payment "created a significant shortfall to (their) detriment."

They also argue that Patriot negligently failed to ensure that the interim disbursements to Saldana were justified and in line with the progress of the construction and neglected to hold back a retainage of at least 10 percent at the end of the project to ensure that sufficient funds were available to pay for completion of the project.

According to the original petition, the complainants borrowed an additional $90,000 to finish the work after Saldana defaulted.

Patriot's conduct further constitutes aiding and abetting the perpetration of wrongful acts by Saldana, the suit says.

Monte Bello alleges the bank was responsible for it being sued by Davis-Lynch Inc.

The plaintiffs spent nearly $30,000 in legal fees to free Monte Bello from the lawsuit.

The suit ultimately accuses the defendant of charging the plaintiffs roughly $19,000 for the legal fees it incurred in defending its own substandard banking practices without Monte Bello's permission to assume the liability.

A jury trial is requested.

Markle Delacruz LLP is representing the plaintiffs, and Galveston County 56th District Court Judge Lonnie Cox is presiding over the case.

Case No. 11-cv-1331

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