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Trustmark found at fault in trust mismanagement lawsuit

Hinds County Chancellor Denise Owens has ordered Trustmark National Bank to pour $1.75 million into a trust that she ruled it inappropriately invaded.

The ruling came after a trial earlier in the summer, in which Trustmark and former trust officer Joe Dick were accused by Meg Weidner of improperly disbursing $1.7 million to Dee Farrell, Meg’s mother, over a period of six years. Weidner claimed, and Owens agreed, that 150 disbursements from October 2002 to August 2008 to Farrell were improper.

 In her ruling, issued Tuesday, Owens said Trustmark was “grossly derelict” in its management of the trust, specifically in its failure to follow documentation rules. As part of the ruling, Owens removed Trustmark as trustee and awarded Weidner $100,000 in punitive damages.

“Trustmark is a fine institution,” wrote Weidner’s attorney Mike Farrell (no relation to Dee), in an email to Magnolia Marketplace. “I think it will learn from these mistakes, correct them and be a better institution at the end of the day.”

I’ve asked Trustmark for a response, including if it has plans to appeal. When I get something, I’ll post it.

UPDATE: Statement from T. Harris Collier III, Trustmark general counsel: “We are in the process of reviewing Judge Owen’s ruling and considering all of our options. Trustmark believes that all of the distributions from the trust were consistent with the intent of the trust. The Court did not conclude that a single payment was improper under the terms of the trust. However, the Court determined that certain documentation policies and procedures were not followed by the former trust officer.”



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