Blog by Bill Singer Esq WEEK IN REVIEW

March 31, 2018

Wells Fargo Whistleblower Yesenia Guitron Wins James Madison Freedom Of Information Award ( Blog)
Yesenia Guitron worked at Wells Fargo's St. Helena, California Branch from 2008 to 2010. She refused to open fake bank accounts. She complained about what she felt were fraudulent practices. Wells Fargo fired her. Although Guitron filed federal whistleblower claims against Wells Fargo, the federal courts dismissed her claims based upon findings that Wells Fargo had presented clear and convincing evidence that Guitron could have otherwise been terminated for failing to meet sales goals, insubordination, and refusing to return to work after being placed on administrative leave. Essentially, the courts believed that notwithstanding her allegations of employer misconduct, Wells Fargo had demonstrated that they had other legitimate grounds on which to have otherwise fired the employee. Notwithstanding. Otherwise. Sometimes ya gotta love how blind (or blinded) Justice can be. Sadly, there are times when she's stumbling around in the dark.

FINRA Arbitration Panel Divines Intent Of Deceased In Dividing Account Assets ( Blog)
In today's Blog we are confronted with yet another variation on the theme of how folks attempt to provide for their loved ones after death but how life, regulation, compliance, and law may frustrate such intentions. Given the often incomprehensible state of estate law and some profound misunderstanding about how the mechanics of joint, tenants in common, and transfer-on-death brokerage accounts work, public customers often think that their after-death desires are going to be accomplished through resort to a 'of estate-planning and trust documents and maneuvers. Sometimes it all works out. Sometimes it's a mess. One of the rewarding things about the BrokeAndBroker Blog's coverage of near-disasters and disasters is that we call attention to issues that folks haven't given enough thought to and frequently get thanked for the warning. 

Body And Estate And Soul And A Counterfeiter And A Murderer And Merrill Lynch ( Blog)
Today's Blog considers allegations that Merrill Lynch caused the wrongful death of one of its customers. Yeah . . . I thought that opening sentence would get your attention. Let me further titillate you with the additional allegation that Merrill Lynch had assisted a prolific counterfeiter in defrauding the deceased customer. And if all of that doesn't entice you to read today's blog, you should know that it also includes three lovely music videos by Anita Baker, Amy Winehouse, Tony Bennett, and Billie Holiday -- as eclectic a group as you may ever find in the company of a murderer and counterfeiter (alleged as they may be).

Perennially Hopeless Battle On In JP Morgan FINRA Arbitration ( Blog)
A few years ago I had the misfortune of getting involved in an estate matter, which, among other points in contention, included a Special Needs Trust or "SNT." Reduced to simplistic basics, an SNT is a legal construct that is designed to protect a "beneficiary" (typically a disabled individual) who is receiving Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid benefits. If the SNT is properly created and implemented, the disabled individual retains their government benefits and a trustee spends SNT funds on payments for certain goods and services for the disabled individual's benefit. When all goes well, the government does not calculate the SNT funds as disqualifying assets when determining the individual's ongoing eligibility. Of course, what in life generally goes well? As a recent FINRA arbitration demonstrates, SNTs are often the impetus behind the Lawyers Full Time Employment Act and prove that Jarndyce v Jarndyce (Bleak House, Court of Chancery, Charles Dickens, Chief Justice) was not a work of fiction. READ

FINRA Humiliated In Federal Court Arbitration Appeal ( Blog)
In its self-regulatory-organization capacity, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is nothing but meticulous about insisting that its member firms and their associated persons follow its rules. At times, FINRA is uncompromising when it insists that a rule says what it says and you are charged with understanding the proscriptions and following the provision without fail. No ifs. No buts. Just do what you're supposed to do and don't do what you're not. Otherwise, stop your whining and pay the fine and do the time. When the screw turns and FINRA is itself on the end of the hook and dangling in a water filled with predators, well, what can I say -- let's just sit back, open another can of beer, put on some suntan lotion, and wait for that ever so gentle and pleasing tug on the line. Who's got the tartar sauce?