LUBBOCK, Texas — Bart Reagor was ordered by a jury on Thursday to pay $53,759,450.96 to Ford Motor Credit Company, the full amount asked by Ford.
A judge already ruled that Reagor owed Ford for losses incurred after a massive fraud scheme was unearthed.
The jury was charged with deciding the dollar amount Reagor owed Ford, as a personal guarantor of the six dealerships that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2018, leading to multiple lawsuits.
The jury took less than one hour to decide. The decision came after a two-day jury trial.
On the first day of the proceedings, Ford’s attorneys urged the jury to look at the evidence in the case, and to not let any emotions play a role in their decision.
During jury selection, a member of the jury pool told the court he had some personal connections to Reagor, but maintained he could remain impartial.
“The numbers don’t lie,” the member of the jury pool said.
This potential juror was not alone; many of the more than 50 people in the courtroom said they had at connections to Reagor and his dealerships.
After the 12 jurors were selected, Ford’s legal team spent nearly five hours breaking down the numbers while examining the sole witness in the case, Phillip Coode, a dealer credit supervisor with Ford Motor Credit. They added up the amount owed by the six dealerships, subtracted the amount that had been recovered through the liquidation of collateral, and added in expenses incurred in the process, arriving at the amount of $53,759,450.96.
In their cross examination of Coode, Reagor’s attorneys pointed out a series of discrepancies in the amounts owed by each dealership in the summer of 2018.
They reminded the jury of a statement made at the start of the trial: “Small errors make for big catastrophes.”
Coode testified that he was not surprised by the differences in amounts. He said there was a lot of activity going on at that time due to the discovery that nearly 1,200 vehicles were sold out-of-trust. Out-of-trust is fancy way of saying in violation of a contract.
Plus, Coode said some of those amounts did not include some expenses incurred.
Later, during closing arguments, Reagor’s attorneys argued that more information was needed to come to a decision, namely some audits from June and July of 2018.
They encouraged the jury to calculate their number by subtracting the $64 million recovered from the liquidation of collateral from a sum of around $66 million, gathered using wholesale statements from 2018. They concluded $2 million would be a more reasonable amount for Reagor to owe, instead of $53 million.
Reagor’s counsel told the court, “I have to put my client’s destiny in your hands.”
However, Ford’s attorney’s said, “The numbers are real.” He reminded the jury of the hours of “painstaking” detail covered in Coode’s testimony, and said the only thing that mattered was the evidence.
Reagor had no comment leaving the courthouse on Thursday after the verdict was announced.
A due date for the payment was not discussed in court at this time.