Justia Securities Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Arbitration & Mediation
Conway Family Trust v. Commodity Futures Trading Commission
During October 2008 the Trust lost $3.6 million trading futures contracts. Contending that errors by Dorman, a futures commission merchant, caused some of these losses, in October 2011 the Trust asked the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to order Dorman to make reparation, 7 U.S.C. 18(a)(1). The Commission dismissed the claim as untimely. The Trust had made a claim within the two-year limitations period, but with the National Futures Association, which referred it to arbitration. The arbitrators awarded the Trust $500,000 against several defendants but ruled in favor of Dorman because the Trust’s contract with that entity set a one‐year time limit for financial claims. The Commission rejected the Trust’s claim of equitable tolling. The Seventh Circuit denied a petition for review. The Trust knew about the trading losses as soon as they occurred but did nothing for almost two years; it did not diligently pursue the Commission’s processes. The Trust did not say that any circumstance, let alone an extraordinary one, prevented timely filing. The court reasoned that the arbitral award, right or wrong, has nothing to do with equitable tolling. View "Conway Family Trust v. Commodity Futures Trading Commission" on Justia Law
Ortiz-Espinosa v. BBVA Securities of Puerto Rico, Inc.
Appellants sought arbitration with BBVA Securities of Puerto Rico, Inc. and one of its securities brokers, asserting several claims under both federal and Puerto Rico law. An arbitration panel issued an award denying Appellants’ claims. Appellants then filed a complaint in the Puerto Rico Court of First Instance requesting that the court vacate or modify the arbitration award, seeking relief under the Puerto Rico Arbitration Act. Defendants removed the case to the U.S. District Court of the District of Puerto Rico, arguing that the district court had federal question jurisdiction and also had supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims. Appellants moved to remand the case to Puerto Rico state court for lack of jurisdiction. The district court denied the motion after applying the look-through approach and determining that the underlying statement of claim alleged federal claims. The district court subsequently confirmed the award. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the look-through approach was the correct test in this case; (2) federal jurisdiction existed; and (3) the district court did not err in refusing to vacate the award and in confirming it. View "Ortiz-Espinosa v. BBVA Securities of Puerto Rico, Inc." on Justia Law
Goldman v. Citigroup Global Mkts., Inc
The Goldmans, proceeding before an arbitration panel operating under the auspices of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), alleged that their financial advisor and Citigroup had violated federal securities law in their management of the Goldmans’ brokerage accounts. The district court dismissed their motion to vacate an adverse award for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, stating the Goldmans’ motion failed to raise a substantial federal question. The Third Circuit affirmed. Nothing about the Goldmans’ case is likely to affect the securities markets broadly. That the allegedly-misbehaving arbitration panel happened to be affiliated with a self-regulatory organization does not meaningfully distinguish this case from any other suit alleging arbitrator partiality in a securities dispute. The court noted “the flood of cases that would enter federal courts if the involvement of a self-regulatory organization were itself sufficient to support jurisdiction.” View "Goldman v. Citigroup Global Mkts., Inc" on Justia Law
Credit Suisse Secs. LLC v. Tracy
Five former employees of Credit Suisse began arbitration proceedings before FINRA concerning employment-related disputes. The employees had entered into employment agreements with Credit Suisse that included provisions to resolve all employment‐related disputes by arbitration before a private arbitration provider.Credit Suisse sought to compel the employees to dismiss the FINRA arbitration and pursue their claims in a non‐FINRA arbitral forum. The district court granted Credit Suisse's petition and entered judgment ordering the employees to pursue their claims in a non‐FINRA arbitral forum. The court concluded that FINRA Rule 13200 does not prohibit the enforcement of pre‐dispute waivers of a FINRA arbitral forum. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Credit Suisse Secs. LLC v. Tracy" on Justia Law
Goldman Sachs & Co v. Athena Venture Partners, L.P.
Athena incurred $1.4 million in losses on investments with Goldman Sachs and believed that Goldman misrepresented the risks, Goldman and Athena participated in arbitration to settle the dispute. Athena asserted misrepresentation, securities fraud, common law fraud and breach of fiduciary duty. After the first panel session, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) disclosed that a panel member, Timban, had been charged with the unauthorized practice of law based on an appearance in a New Jersey municipal court. Neither party, nor FINRA, objected to Timban’s continued participation; neither party conducted further due diligence. Following a nine-day hearing, the panel ruled in favor of Goldman. Two panel members signed the award, but Timban did not. Under the Subscription Agreement, only two members needed to sign the award for it to have binding effect. After the award, Athena conducted a background investigation on Timban and learned that Timban failed to disclose numerous regulatory complaints against him. The district court ordered a new arbitration hearing, reasoning that Athena’s rights were compromised by an arbitrator who misrepresented his ability to serve and abandoned the panel before its final ruling. The Third Circuit reversed, finding that Athena waived its right to challenge the award. View "Goldman Sachs & Co v. Athena Venture Partners, L.P." on Justia Law
Zarecor v. Morgan Keegan & Co.
The Zarecors invested $800,000 in the RMK Funds. Morgan Keegan was the lead underwriter for the Funds and was heavily involved in their operations. The Zarecors allege that Morgan Keegan omitted facts regarding policies and structure of the Funds; misrepresented the quality of the Funds to Zarecor; and “was intimately involved with” misrepresentations and omissions made in SEC filings, prospectuses, and other marketing materials. When the Funds collapsed in 2007, the Zarecors lost $718,577. Unrelated plaintiffs filed suit on behalf of a class that purchased mutual funds, including the RMK Funds, claiming that Morgan Keegan was liable as a “controlling person” under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, 15 U.S.C. 78t(a), and violations of the Securities Act of 1933. 15 U.S.C. 77k. The Zarecors were part of the putative class, but opted out. The class action was resolved by settlement. In 2009, the Zarecors filed a statement of claim in arbitration with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), alleging that Morgan Keegan had violated federal, New Jersey and Arkansas securities laws. The FINRA arbitration panel awarded them $541,000 in 2010, but a court vacated the award, holding that the dispute was not subject to arbitration under FINRA. The court dismissed their subsequent suit as untimely. The Eighth Circuit affirmed dismissal of claims under Arkansas law and federal law, but concluded that the claim under New Jersey law was timely. View "Zarecor v. Morgan Keegan & Co." on Justia Law
Municipal Workers Compensation Fund, Inc. v. Morgan Keegan & Co.
Municipal Workers Compensation Fund, Inc. ("the Fund"), appealed a circuit court's order denying the Fund's motion to vacate a judgment entered on an arbitration award. The Fund entrusted the management and investment of approximately $50 million in assets to Morgan Asset Management, Inc. ("MAM"), and Morgan Keegan & Company, Inc. ("Morgan Keegan"). MAM served as an investment advisor for a managed account and certain mutual funds owned by the Fund. Morgan Keegan served as the broker-dealer for the Fund's managed account and had the authority as the broker-dealer to execute transactions in that account as directed by the Fund. A second account at Morgan Keegan held the mutual funds that had been sold to the Fund through a Morgan Keegan broker. The Fund stated that it directed MAM and Morgan Keegan to invest its funds conservatively and that it relied on MAM and Morgan Keegan for sound financial advice and management. However, according to the Fund, MAM and Morgan Keegan disregarded this mandate by recommending that the Fund purchase and hold what the Fund says were unsuitable investments, by overconcentrating the Fund's assets in investments that had undue exposure to the sub-prime mortgage market and in other risky investments, and by misrepresenting and failing to disclose material facts pertaining to the investments. The Fund claims that it sustained losses in excess of $15 million in 2007 and 2008 as a result of the actions of MAM and Morgan Keegan. The Fund initiated arbitration proceedings against MAM and Morgan Keegan by filing a statement of claim with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority ("FINRA") pursuant to the arbitration provision contained in its contracts with MAM and Morgan Keegan, asserting claims of breach of fiduciary duty; breach of contract; negligence; fraud; violations of NASD and NYSE Rules; and violations of the Alabama Securities Act. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded from the admissible evidence entered at trial, the Fund established an evident partiality on the part of one of the arbitrators, and that the Fund was entitled to have the judgment entered on the arbitration award vacated. The Court remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Municipal Workers Compensation Fund, Inc. v. Morgan Keegan & Co." on Justia Law
Khazin v. TD Ameritrade Holding Corp
When Khazin began working for TD, he signed an employment agreement and agreed to arbitrate all disputes. Khazin was responsible for due diligence on financial products offered by TD . When he discovered that one product was priced in a manner noncompliant with securities regulations, he reported to his supervisor, Demmissie, and recommended changing the price. Demmissie instructed Khazin to analyze the “revenue impact,” which revealed that remedying the violation would save customers $2,000,000, but would cost TD $1,150,000 and negatively impact Demmissie’s divisions. Demmissie allegedly told Khazin not to correct the problem. Demmissie and TD’s human resources department later confronted Khazin about a purported billing irregularity that, he claims, was unrelated to his duties and nonexistent. His employment was terminated. Khazin sued, asserting violation of the Dodd-Frank Act, premised on the allegation that he had been terminated in retaliation for “whistleblowing.” Khazin contended that the Act prevented TD from compelling the arbitration of his whistleblower retaliation claim, 18 U.S.C. 1514A(e)(2). The district court held that the provision did not prohibit enforcement of arbitration agreements executed before Dodd-Frank was passed. The Third Circuit concluded that Khazin’s whistleblower claim is subject to arbitration because it is not covered by the restrictions. View "Khazin v. TD Ameritrade Holding Corp" on Justia Law
NASDAQ OMX Grp., Inc. v. UBS Sec., LLC
NASDAQ conducted the initial public offering (IPO) for Facebook in May 2012. UBS subsequently initiated an arbitration proceeding against NASDAQ seeking indemnification for injuries sustained in the Facebook IPO, as well as damages for breach of contract, breach of an implied duty of good faith and fair dealing, and gross negligence. NASDAQ initiated a declaratory judgment action to preclude UBS from pursuing arbitration. The district court granted a preliminary injunction and UBS appealed. The court concluded that federal jurisdiction is properly exercised in this case; the district court properly decided the question of arbitrability because the parties never clearly unmistakably expressed an intent to submit that question to arbitration, and such an intent cannot be inferred where, as here, a broad arbitration clause contains a carved-out provision that, at least arguably covers the instant dispute; UBS's claims against NASDAQ are not subject to arbitration because they fall within the preclusive language of NASDAQ Rule 4626(a), and the parties specifically agreed that their arbitration agreement was subject to limitations identified in, among other things, NASDAQ Rules; and, therefore, the court affirmed the district court's order preliminarily enjoining UBS from pursuing arbitration against NASDAQ. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "NASDAQ OMX Grp., Inc. v. UBS Sec., LLC" on Justia Law
Belzberg v. Verus Invs. Holdings Inc.
Petitioner and Ajmal Khan, principal of Verus Investment Holdings, purchased securities in a company to arbitrage a merger between that company and another company (the trade). Petitioner and Khal used Verus' account at Jefferies & Co. and Winton Capital Holding to complete the purchase. After the merger, Jefferies wired to Verus the original investment and profits attributable to the Winton funds. Verus wired the investment money to Winton and the profits to Doris Lindbergh, a friend of Petitioner. Tax authorities later informed Jefferies it owed withholding tax on the trade. Pursuant to an arbitration clause in an agreement between Jefferies and Verus, Jefferies commenced an arbitration against Verus for the unpaid taxes. Verus, in turn, asserted thirty-party arbitration claims against Petitioner, Lindbergh, and others for their share of the taxes. After a hearing, Supreme Court determined that nonsignatories Petitioner and Lindbergh could not be compelled to arbitrate. The Appellate Division reversed, concluding that Petitioner should be estopped from avoiding arbitration because he knowingly exploited and received direct benefits from the agreement between Jefferies and Verus. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Petitioner did not receive a direct benefit from the arbitration agreement and could not be compelled to arbitrate.View "Belzberg v. Verus Invs. Holdings Inc." on Justia Law