Merrill Lynch Stockbroker Beats Wells Fargo In Employment Dispute

December 23, 2015

A former Wachovia/Wells Fargo registered representative resigned and joined what he thought would be the greener pastures of Merrill Lynch. No sooner was the former employee out the door than the lawyering started, the court papers filed, and the arbitration got going. It is not an unfamiliar scenario on the Street.

Case In Point   

In a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority ("FINRA") Arbitration Statement of Claim filed in September 2009 and as amended thereafter, registered representative Claimant Chrys asserted slander per se; tortious interference with contractual relationship; tortious interference with prospective business relationships; malicious prosecution; abuse of process; unjust enrichment; and breach of contract. At the FINRA Arbitration hearing, Claimant Chrys sought:

  • $1,959,177.00 compensatory damages
  • $496,764.00 interest
  • $1,750,000.00 general damages; and
  •  $3,918,354.00 punitive damages.

In the Matter of the FINRA Arbitration Between Michael Charles Chrys, Claimant, vs. Anthony J. Dinallo, Wachovia Securities, LLC, and Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC, Respondents (FINRA Arbitration 09-05466, December 14, 2015).

Respondents generally denied the allegations and asserted various affirmative defenses. Respondent Dinallo counterclaimed for defamation but withdrew that claim at the hearing. 


The FINRA Arbitration Panel found Respondent Wells Fargo liable and ordered it to pay Claimant Chrys $500,000.00 in compensatory damages. The Panel prohibited Respondent Wells Fargo from:

making any further statements that Claimant has deleted, misappropriated, or tampered with client files relating to this arbitration.

Bill Singer's Comment

In 2008, Wachovia initiated a lawsuit against Chrys in the Northern District of New York ("NDNY"). Wachovia Securities LLC, a Delaware Corporation, Plaintiff, v. Michael C. Chrys, a Natural Person, Defendant (Complaint,  NDNY, 08-CV-01028, September  29, 2008). In the NDNY Complaint, Plaintiff Wachovia asserted two Claims for Relief and six Causes of Action  and sought a Temporary Restraining Order  and a Preliminary  Injunction  against Defendant Chrys as a result of his September 19, 2008 resignation from Wachovia and subsequent employment with Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc. The NDNY alleged that Chrys had "misappropriated Wachovia's confidential and proprietary documents and files."

On April 7, 2010, Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed the NDNY matter with prejudice. READ the Notice of  Dismissal

One of the problems with aiming for the stars when it comes to asking for monetary damages is that when you win merely the Moon, it often diminishes the accomplishment. Sure, Claimant Chrys was suing for over $8 million in various damages and interest, but his award of $500,00 isn't exactly chump change. Having lawyered on Wall Street for three decades, I get it: Chrys may well be unhappy with his six-figure award. On the other hand, Chrys may be happy. Frankly, you'll have to ask him to be sure.

Coupled with the monetary award, the FINRA Arbitration Panel also gave Chrys an important victory in terms of concurring with his allegation that Wells Fargo had defamed him by asserting that he had mishandled that firm's client files. The specificity of the Panel's prohibition in the Arbitration Decision is to the point.

Finally, don't miss the fallen calendar pages for this dispute.  The federal court lawsuit was started in September 2008, which is more than seven years ago!  The wheels of justice didn't just grind here, they seem to have seized up and required replacement.