Brokerage Firm Hit with Punitive Damages
A Saint Louis, Missouri FINRA arbitration panel yesterday awarded a Missouri resident her full losses, attorney fees, statutory interest, costs and $50,000 in punitive damages for purchases of Region Financial Corp.’s (RF) brokerage firm subsidiary Morgan Keegan’s proprietary bond funds managed by James C. Kelsoe.
The award was the first against Morgan Keegan for punitive damages in the country. According to attorney Andrew Stoltmann, who represented the investor in the arbitration claim, “The award of punitive damages, along with the client’s losses, attorney fees, costs and interest, is the clearest sign yet that arbitrators are repulsed by Morgan Keegan’s fraudulent actions with respect to the firm’s mutual funds.”
The client’s net losses were $51,304. The Panel awarded the Claimant $51,304 in compensatory damages, $50,000 in punitive damages, $35,783 in attorney fees, $8,000 in expenses and $6,154 in statutory interest. The case, heard in Saint Louis, Missouri, is captioned Diana Landau, as Trustee for the Laura E.A. Forrester Hearell Revocable Trust v. Morgan Keegan & Company, Inc. (Case Number 08-01276).
According to the investor’s attorney, Chicago securities attorney Andrew Stoltmann, “This arbitration award, and the granting of punitive damages, affirms our view that Morgan Keegan clearly took advantage of thousands of unsuspecting investors. These funds contained some of the riskiest, toxic derivatives possible and those risks were not made clear to investors. Morgan Keegan portrayed these funds as safe, conservative and appropriate for clients with an investment objective of capital preservation. The funds were anything but safe and secure.”