A Hennepin County judge has ruled that the founder of Thor Construction is liable for the repayment of more than $3 million the failed firm owes Sunrise Banks, but the legal wrangling continues.

In her ruling earlier this month, Hennepin County District Judge Susan Robiner said Richard Copeland is liable for repaying $3.2 million to Sunrise Banks to repay a loan that the bank called in December.

But an agreement reached between Copeland and Sunrise Banks before the ruling could cap the Thor founder’s exposure at $1.5 million and allow Sunrise to try to collect on Thor Construction receivables and other sources for the remainder of what it is owed, according to attorneys in the case.

Nicholas Henry, Copeland’s attorney, has asked Robiner to revisit her judgment in light of the agreement. D. Charles Macdonald, an attorney for Sunrise, acknowledged the agreement, which has yet to be approved by the judge.

The Sunrise Banks suit, filed in January, led to the revelation that the nearly 40-year old Thor Construction was immersed in financial trouble.

Target Corp. said in January that it had provided $7 million in 2018 to subcontractors that general contractor, Thor, didn’t pay for store-remodeling work after Thor was paid by the retailer.

Longtime Thor CEO Ravi Norman departed, and the firm said in spring that it was ceasing operations.

Just last year, Thor said it generated more than $350 million in annual revenue, including JIT Energy Services, a commercial-building energy subsidiary it acquired in 2017.

Still to be resolved is Thor’s stake in a $36 million building it built in north Minneapolis to house its headquarters and offices for Hennepin County and nonprofits, including the Metropolitan Economic Development Association. Recruited by the county as a partner in the project, Thor has put its investment at $12 million, believed to be mostly a mortgage.

Hennepin County recently said it increased its stake in the facility to about $26 million. Target has also committed to leasing space for other occupants.

“We’re not interested in owning the Thor building,” County Administrator David Hough said recently. “We’re content with what we have.”

Meanwhile, bankers and lawyers are working on a resolution for the Thor mortgage, according to Peter McLaughlin, the CEO of the local office of the Local Initiatives Support Corp., which structured the Thor building loan.

Norman, the former CEO of Thor Companies, said last week he has acquired several Thor subsidiaries other than the construction company owned by Copeland. Norman said he is working with new partners on an offer to buy the Thor space.


Neal St. Anthony 612-673-7144