Blog by Bill Singer Esq WEEK IN REVIEW

August 31, 2019
There is a mystique surrounding those litigants who enter the ring without a lawyer. Perhaps its something in the American ethos that we tend to love underdogs. Yes, we use words like "ethos" in the Blog. We also use expressions like WTF. Indeed, this is a very eclectic online publication -- and, no, "eclectic" is not a pastry filled with custard and dipped in chocolate. In any event, getting back to that American ethos crap, we all seem to root for the pro se party who either can't afford a lawyer or opts not to hire one. Sometimes, our hero saves the legal fees and comes out a winner; other times, well, read about today's FINRA arbitration. expungement nephew/
A Morgan Stanley customer surrendered her annuity. About a year after the surrender, the customer's nephew complains that that the transaction was unsuitable for his aunt. The aunt didn't complain to Morgan Stanley -- only her nephew did. In response, Morgan Stanley denied the claim without offering any settlement whatsoever from either the firm or the stockbroker. Notwithstanding those facts, Morgan Stanley reported the matter as a "customer complaint" and marked up the stockbroker's industry record.
RBC Capital Markets mis-priced the value of some shares in a customer's account. The error prompted the payment of proceeds that were about $1 million higher than the fair market value. The lucky recipient of this screw-up was an RBC stockbroker -- go figure, right? Ultimately, RBC recovered every penny of its mistake. Unfortunately, FINRA barred the stockbroker. How did that happen?  Ahhhh . . . that's the fascinating tale we tell in today's blog.
In a recent federal court case, a former Morgan Stanley employee alleged that he had been wrongfully terminated when Morgan Stanley learned that the Navy had called him for at least six months of active duty. In response to his lawsuit, Morgan Stanley asserted that the former employee had failed to opt-out of a mandatory arbitration program, and, as such, was bound to arbitrate his claims. At first, the employee claimed to have never received the email notice of the program or his right to opt out. That seemed like a winning position. Then Morgan Stanley snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.
This is a saga that starts in 2006 with alleged business expense misconduct; and then, from 2007 through 2019 moves  -- or should we say slogs -- through an investigation, Complaint, hearings, appeals, remands, and appeals. In a bit of mathematical magic, we seem to have traveled twice around a circle only to find ourselves at the end of the beginning of the beginning of the end -- the amazing Mobius Strip of Wall Street Regulation.