Patuxent Publishing sued by bank seeking payment on disputed note

January 19, 1993|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff Writer

The company that publishes the Columbia Flier, the Howar County Times and nearly a dozen other suburban Baltimore newspapers has been sued by a bank seeking payment of more than $300,000 for an unpaid loan.

First American Bank of Maryland claims in a Howard Circuit Court suit filed Jan. 5 that Patuxent Publishing Co. of Columbia defaulted on a commercial note.

The bank is asking that the company be ordered to pay the $296,472 balance of the note, plus daily interest, late charges and attorney fees, the suit says.

The suit is the second in a squabble between the publishing group and First American over finances.

The most recent suit was filed against Patuxent and its general partners, Chesapeake Publishing Corp. of Easton, Merci Beaucoup Inc. of Columbia and Moon Beam Inc. of Columbia. Patuxent, based in the 10700 block of Little Patuxent Parkway, publishes 13 weekly newspapers in the Baltimore area.

Patuxent received a commercial note for $400,000 through First American in 1991, the suit says.

E. Fremont Magee, a Baltimore attorney for Patuxent, said the company made one payment in January 1992. But soon after, he said, Patuxent stopped payments because of a dispute over a separate, much larger note, and its partners sued the bank.

That suit involves a $1.5 million note that financed Patuxent's purchase of Byron Publishers Inc., a Columbia company that publishes telephone directories, records say.

The note was issued in 1985 through Patuxent's account at First American to Byron's account at Centrebank, which later merged with National Bank, the suit says.

National Bank sought payment in 1991 by sending four "fraudulent" letters to First American claiming that it now held the note and wanted the money, the suit says.

But the publishing group contends that Byron's previous owner held the note, and that it was never signed over to National Bank.

First American officials did not verify National Bank's claims before paying off the note, the suit says.

Patuxent's general partners sued both banks over the matter last March.

After the payment, First American sought to recover the money from Patuxent, and the company paid $1.2 million, the suit says. The company was to pay the remaining amount, plus interest, under a $400,000 promissory note.

However, Mr. Magee asserts that Patuxent had already paid $400,000 of the original note when First American turned over the $1.5 million, so the company stopped payments on the second note.

That is the money First American is seeking in the newest suit.

Both banks deny the company's allegations in court papers filed in response to the suit. Attorneys for the banks and bank officials could not be reached for comment.

First American, of Silver Spring, has filed a cross claim against National Bank, which is now known as NationsBank, asking the court to make the bank responsible for any awarded damages, records say.

The case is scheduled for a trial before Circuit Judge Cornelius Sybert Jr. on June 7.

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