Judge won't dismiss suit against bank Ruling sets stage for trial in Oct.

September 24, 1992|By Timothy J. Mullaney | Timothy J. Mullaney,Staff Writer

A Baltimore County Circuit Court judge refused yesterday t dismiss a lawsuit brought by the heirs of developer Ralph DeChiaro against Maryland National Bank.

The ruling set the stage for an October trial on claims that the bankmishandled trust funds Mr. DeChiaro set up for the benefit of his three daughters and their children.

Both sides had asked Judge John F. Fader II for a pretrial ruling that the case was so clear that their side would win at trial, which is set for Oct. 20. But the judge said issues of fact remain unresolved and that the law was not clear enough to justify a summary judgment.

"Does anyone really believe I would grant summary judgment to any of you?" the judge asked at a morning hearing in Towson. He said Maryland's Court of Appeals has narrow guidelines that effectively compel him to let the case go to trial if the parties cannot settle it out of court.

"It is a policy decision for them [the Court of Appeals] to make and they have made that decision," Judge Fader said.

The DeChiaro family, which has retained different attorneys to represent different relatives with interests in the family fortune, charges that Maryland National allowed trust assets to be used as collateral for loans that were of little, if any, benefit to the trust.

Many of those loans were made to ventures led by Lawrence Rachuba, Mr. DeChiaro's son-in-law, who took over management the family development company and also started separate ventures on his own.

Mr. Rachuba filed for bankruptcy court protection in 1990 to help him reorganize his affairs. Mr. Rachuba's projects include the Sheraton Baltimore North hotel in Towson and the Baltimore Travel Plaza in East Baltimore, which have since been taken back by Maryland National.

Maryland National was the trustee of the trust for years.

The bank has charged that the family marketed its different ventures as a single group of companies, the DeChiaro-Rachuba Group, and that loan guarantees were proper among different partnerships that were part of the DeChiaro-Rachuba Group.

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