In 2002, Collins Signs filed for bankruptcy.
The bankruptcy trustee for Collins Signs filed a federal lawsuit against Nissan North America. On Thursday, they won.
They were awarded $13.8 million dollars.
It’s one of the largest judgments to come out of a federal case in our area.
Collins Signs was once a thriving business in the Wiregrass, making signs for more than 30 major brands.
However, after agreeing to do business with Nissan North America in 2001, things went downhill.
Former Vice President of Collins Signs, David Hughs said, "We entered into that contract with Nissan expecting to go through with it and we found out they never intended to do so."
According to lawyers, Collins Signs was forced to file bankruptcy in 2002.
Harry Hall, II, a lawyer for Bankruptcy Trustee said, “They terminated the contract and wouldn’t pay Collins for the $3.5 million dollars worth of installations they had already completed."
Cummings Signs on Napier Field Road bought Collins' assets five years ago.
"In 2002, Collins Signs began laying off employees in the fall, and by the time the sale took place, they were down to 500 employees or less," Hall continued.
Several local businesses, including Personnel Resources, C & C Fastners and Breckin Wholesale were effected by the collapse of Collins Signs because they were major vendors.
Thursday’s verdict could lead to some repayment.
"The money will go to pay creditors when it’s recovered by Nissan,” Hall concluded. “It caused Collins Signs to file chapter 11 bankruptcy converted to a ch.7."
"It’s going to vindicate a lot of employees who lived through the paranoia,” Hughs added. “It wasn't just their imagination."
As of now, it is uncertain which creditors will receive payments.
The bankruptcy trustee has to take the money and disburse it according to bankruptcy court rules.