Was the Award rendered for defamation?For violation of Florida's Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act?For Tortious Interference with Contract?Was there any wrongful termination of Claimant for alleged whistleblowing?
Mr. Price was terminated after allegations were raised that he failed to disclose to the Firm his receipt of information which appeared to be material and non-public relating to a low-priced security in which he and his clients engaged in transactions; violated Firm policy by communicating with third party analysts and circulating research regarding the same low-priced security in which he and his clients invested; and violated several other Firm compliance policies.
Mr. Price denies all allegations against him, and furthermore, he has filed a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit against his ex-employer for wrongful termination under the Florida Whistleblower Act. In addition, Mr. Price has filed a claim against his ex-partners at his prior employer for defamation under FINRA arbitration. As of September 30, 2021, both cases are ongoing.
As if the FINRA Arbitration Panel's Award wasn't puzzling enough as to what it did and didn't address, consider the Syllabus in Craig D. Price, Plaintiff, v. UBS Financial Services, Inc., Defendant (Opinion, United States District Court for the District of New Jersey ("DNJ"), 17-CV-01882 / April 19, 2018)
Plaintiff Craig D. Price brings this action against UBS Financial Services, Inc. ("Defendant"), alleging claims of whistleblowing retaliation under the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act ("Dodd-Frank"), 15 U.S.C. § 78u-6, and the Florida Whistleblower Act (the "FWA"), Fla. Stat. § 448.102. This matter comes before the Court on Defendant's motion to lift the Court-imposed stay of proceedings and dismiss Plaintiff's Dodd-Frank claim with prejudice. There was no oral argument. Fed. R. Civ. P. 78(b). For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion is GRANTED.
The Supreme Court was unequivocal in holding the following:
The question presented: Does the anti-retaliation provision of Dodd- Frank extend to an individual who has not reported a violation of the securities laws to the SEC and therefore falls outside the Act's definition of "whistleblower"? We answer that question "No": To sue under Dodd- Frank's anti-retaliation provision, a person must first "provid[e] . . . information relating to a violation of the securities laws to the Commission.
At Page 3 of the DNJ OpinionDigital Realty, 138 S. Ct. at 772-73 (citations omitted). It further noted that the "core objective of Dodd-Frank's robust whistleblower program . . . is to motivate people who know of securities law violations to tell the SEC." See id. at 777 (internal quotations and citations omitted). "In sum, Dodd-Frank's text and purpose leave no doubt that the term 'whistleblower' in § 78u-6(h) carries the meaning set forth in the section's definitional provision." Id. at 778. Consequently, "[t]he disposition of this case is therefore evident: [plaintiff] did not provide information 'to the Commission' before his termination, § 78u- 6(a)(6), so he did not qualify as a 'whistleblower' at the time of the alleged retaliation. He is therefore ineligible to seek relief under § 78u-6(h)." See id.The same outcome must follow here. Plaintiff does not allege that he reported any information to the SEC prior to his termination. His testimony to FINRA plainly does not meet the statutory requirement and he, therefore, is not a whistleblower under Dodd-Frank. Furthermore, any attempt to amend his complaint with facts stating that he disclosed information to the SEC after his termination would be futile. As the Supreme Court made clear, the purpose of Dodd-Frank whistleblower protections is to incentivize individuals like Plaintiff to come forward and provide information of securities law violations to the SEC. See id. at 777-78. Here, Plaintiff did not come forward until well after the fact of the alleged securities violations, his testimony to FINRA and his own termination. Plaintiff had ample time between when he first learned of the violations and his termination to report the misconduct to the SEC, but he chose not to. The Court, therefore, finds that Plaintiff does not meet the definition of "whistleblower" under Dodd-Frank. Accordingly, Plaintiff's Dodd-Frank claim is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.