First Union Corp. defeated a $500 million lawsuit filed by the trustee for defunct Southeast Banking Corp., as the Supreme Court today refused to consider an appeal in the case.

The trustee charged that First Union's breach of a confidentiality agreement between the companies caused federal regulators to close Southeast in 1991.

Without opinion, the justices let stand a ruling by an Atlanta-based federal appeals court that said last year Southeast couldn't sue for damages in the case.

Southeast trustee William A. Brandt Jr. charged that First Union used financial information it obtained during confidential merger discussions with Southeast to persuade federal regulators to close the Miami-based company's two banks. First Union had pulled out of the merger discussions but then later bought Southeast's assets from federal regulators for $81 million immediately after the seizure.

The case is Brandt v. First Union Corp., 96-1245.

-Greg Stohr, Bloomberg News

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