I Don't Want To Miss A Thing In Customer's Armageddon FINRA Arbitration

August 22, 2016

I don't want to miss a thing was a lyric sung by Aerosmith from the 1998 film "Armageddon." The song was pretty decent; the movie, however, was something you could miss, particularly since it's pretty much a re-hash of a number of asteroids-on-the-way-to-destroy-Earth flicks and there is no chemistry between Liv Tyler and Ben Affleck and you knew from the beginning how it was going to turn out when they sent that lame team of drillers onto the asteroid. Ooops . . . I think I'm getting off course here like Bruce Willis and Steve Buscemi did. In any event, consider a recent FINRA arbitration in which a customer complains that her brokerage firm was sort of like an asteroid that hit her planet of investments and destroyed them. Unfortunately the official arbitration Decision is missing so many facts and explanations that we have little idea as to what happened. I suspect that the customer has no idea what hit her too. At least BrokeAndBroker.com Blog readers get to watch a music video of Aerosmith's hit song at the end of today's article.

Case In Point

In a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority ("FINRA") Arbitration Statement of Claim filed in April 2015,Claimant Cottrell alleged breaches of contract and fiduciary duties; negligence; suitability; misrepresentation and fraud; and failure to supervise. Initially, Claimant sought
  • $562,965.00 in compensatory damages for losses related to the liability for and payment of state and federal income taxes attributable to capital gains realized by Claimant when Respondent allegedly liquidated securities in Claimant's account in June and July, 2013;
  • Disgorgement of commissions, fees, and other forms of compensation;
  • Lost opportunity or reasonable return on the sums invested by Claimant consistent with a suitable rate of return ("Well Managed Portfolio");
  • Interest at the rate of 10% from the date Claimant paid the income taxes until any Award is paid in full;
  • Punitive damages;
  • Cost of arbitration including expert witness fees, filing fees, and hearing costs; and
  • Reasonable attorneys' fees.
At the close of the arbitration, Claimant sought $514,505.00 in compensatory damages and withdrew her well-managed-portfolio claims. In the Matter of the FINRA Arbitration Between Joanna Cottrell, Claimant, vs. Woodridge Capital Portfolio Management, LLC, Respondent (FINRA Arbitration 15-00887. August 10, 2016).

Respondent Woodridge Capital generally denied the allegations and asserted various affirmative defenses. During the evidentiary hearing, Respondent's counsel made an oral motion to amend its Statement of Answer to request an award of costs, which Claimant's counsel did not oppose. The FINRA Arbitration Panel granted the motion.


The FINRA Arbitration Panel denied Claimant's claims.

Additionally, the Panel found Claimant liable and ordered her to pay $45,000 in expert fees to Respondent.

Bill Singer's Comment

You satisfied with this case and the outcome? If you are, you're a very special person because I have no idea why this Panel denied all of the customer's claims and tacked on a $45,000 award for expert fees. Seems to me that we could have been provided with just a tad -- a smidgen -- of rationale, particularly since the arbitrators saw fit to award a five-figure amount in expert fees.

As I often try to explain but don't always succeed, I am not suggesting that the arbitrators got it wrong. For all I know, there was no merit to the public customer's case and justice was done. The thing about justice being done, however, is that we really needed some explanation as to why this given set of facts failed to carry the day for this public customer. Then again, I am apparently an insatiably curious fellow: I don't want to miss a thing.