In a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority ("FINRA") Arbitration Statement of Claim filed in March 2012, Claimants asserted causes of action including breaches of contract and fiduciary duty, negligence, and negligent supervision in connection with their investments in Jones Soda Co., Nektar Therapuetics, Poniard Pharma, Inc. and Helices Bioscience Corp. Claimants sought $9,000,000 in damages, costs, and attorneys' fees. In the Matter of the FINRA Arbitration Between Philip Lovell, Philip Lovell Pension Plan, and The Lovell Family Trusts, Claimants, vs. John Bulkley Meacham and Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC, Respondents (FINRA Arbitration 12-00793, July 30, 2013).
Respondents Meacham and Wells Fargo Advisors generally denied the allegations and asserted various affirmative defenses.
Because of Meachan's February 2013 bankruptcy filing, all claims against him were indefinitely stayed and the Panel made no determination as against him.
SIDE BAR: According to online FINRA records as of August 8, 2013, Wells Fargo Advisors "Discharged" Meacham on March 30, 2010, based upon allegations that he had been:
DISCHARGED FOR VIOLATION OF FIRM POLICY RELATING TO HANDLING OF FIRM RECORDS
Additionally, FINRA records disclose that on March 15, 2013, Meacham entered into an Acceptance, Waiver & Consent settlement, whereby, without admitting or denying the findings, he was suspended in all capacities for three months but no monetary fine was imposed because of the filing of his Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition. The AWC alleged that he had borrowed $50,000 from a customer in contravention of the firm's procedures.
The FINRA Arbitration Panel found Respondent Wells Fargo Advisors liable and ordered it to pay to Claimants $1,802,508 08 in compensatory damages.
Bill Singer's Comment
It is summer and things tend to get a tad slow in terms of news involving the industry. That being said, it's not every day that we see a $9 million customer arbitration claim -- and it's not every day that we see an award rendered for nearly $2 million. Let's just call this a Wall Street rainbow. It's sort of dazzling to behold. It's not going to last that long. All in all, it's more about the spectacle than the substance.