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FINRA Wrongful Termination Case Fizzles
Written: January 28, 2013

A picture taken on February 8, 2011 in Rennes,...

In a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) Arbitration Statement of Claim filed in August 2011, Claimant Wojnowski, Jr.  alleged wrongful termination; fraud in the inducement; and breach of contract in connection with his employment relationship with Respondents. Claimant ultimately sought compensatory damages between $4,276,665.00 and $5,851,665.00.  In the Matter of the FINRA arbitration Between Donald Anthony Wojnowski, Jr., Claimant v. & Strudwick, Incorporated, Gordon Lee Crenshaw, II, Donald Hale Newlin, and Milton Turner, Respondents; and James Todd Newton, Third-Party Respondent(FINRA Arbitration 11-03029, January 23, 2013)

Respondents generally denied the allegations; asserted various affirmative defenses and filed a:

  • Counterclaim asserting breach of loans; and
  • Third Party Claim asserting breach of fiduciary duty and gross negligence in connection with Third-Party Respondent Newton’s employment relationships with the Respondents.

In their Counterclaim, Respondents ultimately sought between $100,000 and and $130,000 in compensatory damages; and in their Third-Party Claim, between $100,000 and $300,000 in compensatory damages.

Third-Party Respondent Newton generally denied the allegations asserted various affirmative defenses, and Counterclaimed for breach of employment agreement. In his Counterclaim, Third-Party Respondent ultimately sought $2,330,000 in compensatory damages.

Award

The FINRA Arbitration Panel found Respondent Anderson & Strudwick liable and ordered it to pay to

  • Claimant: $80,000.00 in compensatory damages plus $600 in filing fees
  • Third-Party Claimant: $140,000.00 in compensatory damages plus $375 in filing fees.

Bill Singer’s Comment

A head scratcher of an Award. I mean, geez, you got a Claimant seeking between $4 million and $6 million in damages but winds up with $80,000; however, the Third-Party Claimant, who apparently was just sittin’ on the sidelines mindin’ his own business, decides, what the hell, and asks for about $2 million in damages and he gets $140,000. When you got a Third-Party Claimant taking home more damages than the Claimant that’s an oddball outcome.

How do you handicap this case?  Hey, take your best shot.  The Respondents were looking at about $8 million in exposure but walked away from the hearings with a tab for about $220,000.  Could this case have settled in 2011 or 2012 — should this case have settled a year or two earlier? I’m sure that there is a whole hell of a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking going on over this one — but notwithstanding how you may have called the plays for this game, the case ended with far more fizzle than sizzle for Claimant.


 
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