February 29, 2012
First and foremost, this is a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority ("FINRA") Arbitration in which the Claimant represented himself pro se, a circumstance that often involves a unique set of baggage. In any event, Claimant DeJulio filed a FINRA Arbitration Statement of Claim in February 2011 asserting defamation; breach of contract; and, tortious interference with a business relationship, all of which allegedly arose in connection with his termination of employment with a Raymond James Financial Services independent branch office managed by Respondents.
Claimant requested compensatory and punitive damages, interest, costs, and fees, and and expungement of a comment from his Form U5. At the close of the hearing, Claimant sought specific compensatory damages of $150,000. In the Matter of the FINRA Arbitration Between Jonathan David DeJulio, Claimant, vs. Walter Dale Crossley, Jr. and Evan Matthew Shear, Respondents (FINRA Arbitration 11-00697, February 24, 2012).
Respondents generally denied the allegations and asserted various affirmative defenses. At the close of the hearing, Respondents sought $16,000.00 in legal fees; $7,500.00 in FINRA fees and witness costs; and an expungement.
Respondents filed a Motion to Compel and Motion for Sanctions in which they asserted, among other things, that Claimant failed to participate and cooperate in the discovery process. Respondents asked the Panel either to preclude Claimant from presenting evidence at the final hearing or dismiss his Statement of Claim. Claimant did not file a written response.
On or about December 19, 2011, the Panel issued an Order that directed Claimant to produce certain documents by December 30, 2011; and warned that failure compliance might result in sanctions. No, we're not quite done with this duel. Respondents filed an Emergency Motion for Sanctions in which they asserted that Claimant failed to comply with the Panel's December 19, 2011 Order. Respondents again asked for either preclusion or dismissal. This time, Claimant responded by providing a copy of discovery-related documents previously provided to Respondents.
After a telephonic conference with the parties, the Panel issued an Order that, among other things, postponed the evidentiary hearing and directed Claimant to comply with the Panel's December 19, 2011 Order to produce all documents and information by January 27, 2012. Further, in the Order the Panel deferred ruling on Respondents' request for attorneys' fees and expungement.
The FINRA Arbitration Panel denied Claimant's claims.
Pursuant to the terms of his Financial Advisor Agreement, Claimant was found liable for and ordered to reimburse Respondents the sum $16,000.00 representing attorneys' fees incurred by Respondents in connection with this matter.
Bill Singer's Comment
Ouch! I mean, what can I say? These pro se cases tend to become messy affairs - which is not to say that such self-represented parties don't win, they do. See these cases for example:
Of course, the costs of hiring lawyers is such a financial burden to many folks that they are forced to either represent themselves or default. If you want to or have to take on the likes of Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, or JP Morgan by your little old self, good luck. In these nasty Wall Street employment disputes, a pro se former employee is often little more than an unarmed cowboy who finds himself standing in the middle of the street, at High Noon, facing a hired gun with lots of notches on his belt.
As a result of filing this arbitration, Claimant DeJulio wound up getting hit with $16,000 in damages. Talk about adding insult to injury.