CHICAGO — A federal judge in Illinois has dismissed a suit filed by a longtime South Side Chicago businessman who accused a bank of discriminating against him when it sought to foreclose on his loan and take away his home.
Lloyd Hughes filed suit on behalf of Lloyd M. Hughes Enterprises Inc., naming Inland Bank and Trust as the defendant in a dispute that stemmed from its refusal to rework the terms of his loan on his laundromat.
The court previously rejected his petition on the grounds of tortious interference and the bank initiated summary judgment proceedings in March.
In rendering his most recent decision, U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly cited Hughes' neglect in "filing a response" by the extended deadline, and the fact that he "had not sought an extension of time."
Throughout the proceedings, Hughes argued "Inland had no intention of servicing an African American-owned business located in an African-American neighborhood."
In 2010, Hughes borrowed $625,000 from First Choice Bank under a loan secured through the Small Business Administration for the purposes of making capital improvements to his business, Laundryworld, based in Woodlawn and Washington Park.
Roughly a year later, Inland purchased all of First Choice's loans, deposits and facilities out of receivership.
In 2011, Hughes sought to adjust his payment schedule, including requesting a year of interest-only payments.
In rejecting Hughes' request, the bank also noted that he needed to reduce his debt, ultimately suggesting he sell off other secured properties used as collateral to do so. Hughes' account was later transferred to an employee in Inland's special assets division that oversees troubled accounts.
At some point, Inland approved Hughes' interest-only payments request, subject to certain documentation to make the matter official.
Hughes also sought to further modify the terms of his loan by extending it from 12 to as many as 25 years. After further haggling, in September 2013, the bank sent Hughes a notice of default with its SBA resources division manager overseeing the action.
Hughes alleged that manager was unfriendly towards him from the beginning "because she could tell from his voice that he is African-American."
In rendering a decision, Kennelly held that "summary judgment is appropriate when the evidence shows that there is no genuine dispute regarding any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. A plaintiff alleging racial discrimination in the credit context typically must demonstrate a conventional way by using direct or circumstantial evidence."
Hughes had sought damages, legal fees and other relief.
He was represented in the action by attorneys Michael F Bonaguro, of Evanston, and Justin L. Leinenweber, of the firm of Leinenweber Baroni & Daffada LLC, of Chicago.
Inland was represented by the firm of Cohon Raizes & Regal LLP, of Chicago.