The Investor Defenders attorneys focus on securities and financial legal issues. The following gives some information about the various practice areas we handle. Each case is unique, and sometimes there are overlapping issues and areas of the law. We take pride in the fact that we are counselors as much as problem solvers. We take the time with our clients to explain the pros and cons of litigation, how FINRA arbitration or a court case works, and, when appropriate, alternatives like mediation or other settlement negotiation. And, we are your advocate, every step of the way.
What is FINRA arbitration? FINRA stands for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, a self-regulatory organization that licenses and regulates stockbrokers and brokerage firms. When investment losses occur in a stock brokerage account, claims for investment losses usually have to be filed in a FINRA arbitration proceeding rather than court. That is because virtually every brokerage firm’s forms that you must sign when you open an investment account have a provision stating that you agree to go to arbitration rather than court if there is ever a dispute.
We know FINRA arbitration. We know the rules and the strategies to successfully present a case in FINRA arbitration. If you are headed into a dispute with your stockbroker or brokerage firm, it is critical that you have an attorney who is specifically experienced in FINRA arbitration. We have that experience. Attorney Darlene Pasieczny has focused her legal practice on representing investors in FINRA arbitration.
If a conservative to moderate investor loses, say, 20% of his portfolio designed by a financial advisor, the chances are very good that the advisor is at fault. Likewise, if a particular investment was described to you as a “good investment,”” or “safe and secure” and later becomes worthless or illiquid, chances are good that someone misrepresented that investment to you.
We evaluate how much money was lost, why it was lost, and whether the law supports a claim for recovery. If the losses are significant, and were caused by an advisor’s mistake or an investment principal’s misrepresentations, we seek to set the sale aside – our clients offer to give back the investment in exchange for a return of their purchase price, plus interest and attorney fees when the law allows it.
Increasingly so since the ugly collapse of Bernard Madoff’s extensive Ponzi scheme in 2008, receivers and trustees of bankrupt Ponzi operations are attempting to recover billions of dollars from innocent investors. Those investors were fortunate enough to have gotten their money back before the fraudulent operation collapsed.
These are called clawback claims. We represent innocent investors nationwide – those who were unaware that they had invested in a Ponzi Scheme – when they are named as defendants in clawback claims.
We represent financial advisors in claims brought by or against their broker-dealers or RIA firms. We also represent advisors who have lost clients because they recommended investments based on faulty information from their broker-dealer. In these situations, FINRA panels have awarded financial advisors the value of the lost business. We have successfully represented FAs in promissory note cases, discrimination and harassment, raiding-related claims, compensation issues, and U-5 reporting issues.
We have found that it is best for our clients that we limit our investor cases to the representation of investors only, and for that reason, we do not represent defendants in those cases.
The financial professionals who participate in or assist unlawful conduct regarding securities and other financial transactions may have liability for your investment losses. Accountants, CPAs, attorneys, trustees, title companies, and others who are involved with a securities offering, or purporting to conduct due diligence of an investment, preparing financial statements and financial information disclosures for investors, drafting private placement memoranda or other disclosure materials, or making unlicensed investment recommendations, are all some of the ways these non-broker professionals may be liable under state or federal securities laws.
Fiduciary litigation also includes trust and estate disputes regarding mishandling of trust or estate assets. A trustee or personal representative has fiduciary responsibilities to properly handle trust or estate assets. Our attorneys also handle claims relating to contested estate planning documents, mismanagement of assets, and disputes among beneficiaries.
Since it was implemented in 2011, the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower handles whistleblower claims against publicly traded companies for any violations of the federal securities laws. Whistleblower employees may get special protections from employer retaliation. And any whistleblower, whose original information assists the SEC in recovering money in an enforcement action and who follows the proper reporting procedures, may receive an award of up to 10% of the recovered funds. The SEC considers this program an important tool for fighting securities law violations. Whistleblowers have received millions of dollars in awards since the program was implemented. Our attorneys know the rules and procedures to give your whistleblower claims the best chance for receiving an award, and to fight against employer retaliation.
Combating elder financial abuse is a high priority for state and federal securities regulators, but the reality is that abuse of our most vulnerable population happens every day. There are many protections afforded under state law and FINRA rules for victims and for financial advisors spotting potential abuse to prevent it from happening in the first place. Our attorneys are advocates for investor protection and especially protection of our senior population from financial abuse. When abuse happens, special protections under the law may entitle a victim to recover enhanced financial damages – in some states treble damages and attorney fees.