Defense 'claims' victory despite verdict in Money Tree trial - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Defense 'claims' victory despite verdict in Money Tree trial

Defense attorneys in Money Tree trial. (Left to right: Defense counsel Chris Gunnels, John McGoldrick, Rice Ferrelle and Graham McDonald) (Source: Graham McDonald) Defense attorneys in Money Tree trial. (Left to right: Defense counsel Chris Gunnels, John McGoldrick, Rice Ferrelle and Graham McDonald) (Source: Graham McDonald)
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

A three week long federal civil trial ended with a verdict for the investors against the Money Tree lending company.

But on Wednesday night, the defendants claimed that they had won.

Even though the jury ruled against them, attorneys for members of the Martin Family from Bainbridge and their various companies, said they felt this verdict lifted a dark cloud from over their heads. 

The jury deliberated at Albany Federal Court for about a day and a half.  

Investors sued, claiming officials of the Money Tree misdirected money to themselves and other companies they owned when the company declared bankruptcy.

The investors asked for $84 million plus millions in punitive damages. 

The 79 page verdict awarded the investors between $2-3 million total, with individual family members paying only a fraction each.

"Will be paying $325,000. So this was a great day. For all the defendants, especially my client. I view it as only a defense victory," said Defense Attorney Graham McDonald.

John Elrod, head attorney for the investors, said they are very pleased with the verdict in their favor, especially the punitive damage awards, and look forward to the defendants satisfying their payments to investors.

This verdict was so complex, the judge told attorneys to return to Albany Federal Court for another hearing to actually decide which investors get how much money.   

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