Former mall owner faces more legal troubles

Atlanta real estate investor Lee Najjar faces more financial troubles.

Community & Southern Bank filed a lawsuit this month contending he defaulted on a loan of more than $3.8 million on property he owns in Gwinnett County.

It’s the latest legal complaint lodged against Najjar, whose real estate empire has slowly evaporated amid the economic downturn.

Najjar, whose lavish lifestyle earned him celebrity friends and a spot on reality TV shows, lost Union Station Mall in south Fulton County to foreclosure in early 2011 as well as about a half-dozen shopping centers.

Court records and other public documents show he’s defaulted on more than $48 million in bank loans over the last three years. Najjar could not be reached for comment, and attorneys for Community & Southern Bank did not return several calls.

In the complaint, filed in Fulton County Superior Court, the bank said Najjar’s company took out the $3.8 million loan from The Peoples Bank in March 2007 using Gwinnett County property as collateral.

The loan was later transferred to C&S, and the bank said it was forced to foreclose on the land and sue Najjar when he defaulted on his payments. It said he has been “stubbornly litigious and caused C&S unnecessary legal trouble and expense.”