Bank of America has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit being filed against them regarding the Clara Blackford Smith and W. Aubrey Smith Charitable Foundation.
Ronnie Cole and Sherry Christie are named as plaintiffs in the case according to court documents filed by Bank of America in the United States District Court of the Eastern District of Texas, Sherman Division.
Bill Halldin a Spokesmen for Bank of America said the bank has administered the funds in accordance with the will.
“The bottom line is the trust that was set up put a bank in charge of the trustee,” Halldin said. “Over time those banks, through acquisitions, ended up being Bank of America. We have a responsibility to be the trustee. That is the role we play. That is the responsibility we have in this instance.”
According to tax returns provided by Halldin on behalf of Bank of America, in 2015 the trust supplied $525,000 in funds to 22 organizations, all but one local to Grayson County. In 2016, the trust provided $651,000 in funds to 22 organizations as well, many of the same ones. The number declines slightly in 2017 to 15 organizations, largely the same recipients from previous years while the amount was $521,500 for that year.
The tax returns show the fund began 2015 with $16,319,320 and ended the year with $15,277,074. The end of year balance for 2016 was $15,606,560 and for 2017 it was $16,375,805.
The tax returns also show the fund paid $3,000 each to Wayne Delaney, Jack Lilley, Jerry Culpepper and Ronnie Cole as advisers and $124,879 to Bank of America as trustee.
In the motion for dismissal the bank filed with the court, the bank laid out several reasons why it believed the case should be dismissed.
The Denison City Council authorized a resolution to provide financial supporton Monday for the lawsuit on behalf of the citizens of Denison. At that meeting, Denison Mayor Janet Gott said the city stands united in the efforts to restore the funds to the citizens.
On Wednesday afternoon the city of Denison responded via email with a statement about the dismissal.
“We’ve already provided a press release and it would not be appropriate for us to comment on the motion to dismiss as we are not plaintiffs and the litigation is pending,” said Denison Director of Community Engagement Sunny Mackey.
According to that news release the city issued Monday evening, the foundation has contributed more than $27 million to a number of local foundations ranging from Grayson County Shelter, Denison Education Foundation, Casa of Grayson County, the Denison Independent School District and many more of the course of its more than 30 years.
The Save Smith Initiative filing a lawsuit to re-establish the local board of directors to manage the funds is made up of former members of the board of directors who had previously overseen the funds.
Richard A. Todd is a reporter with the Herald Democrat. He can be reached by email RTodd@heralddemocrat.com. Follow him via Facebook and Twitter @RichardAToddHD.