Pro Se Broker Claimant Wins FINRA Arbitration In Wrongful Termination Case

July 18, 2011

In a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority ("FINRA") Arbitration Statement of Claim filed in November 2010, Claimant DePalma , who proceeded pro se, asserted:

  • retaliatory termination of employment,
  • breach of contract, and
  • failure to pay wages/monies owed/compensation.

Claimant DePalma requested $73,076.92 in compensatory damages plus interest, costs, expenses, and fees. In the Matter of the Arbitration Between: Daniel Paul DePalma,Claimant vs. Weston International Capital Markets LLC and John Richard Liegey, Respondents (FINRA Arbitration 10-05253, July 12, 2011)

Where Are You?

Respondents Weston International and Liegey did not file Answers or Submission Agreements but appear to have been represented by legal counsel during the Arbitration hearing. 

SIDE BAR: How or why the FINRA Arbitrator permitted two industry Respondents to participate in an intra-industry hearing without a filed Answer or Submission Agreement is a bit perplexing to me. 

True -- the Respondents are required by the Arbitration Code and their respective FINRA memberships/registrations to submit to intra-industry arbitration and are bound by the Arbitrator's determination. Still, I prefer compliance with the obligations to a) file an Answer; and b) to file a bona fide Submission Agreement.  

This arbitration apparently proceeded on the basis that the Respondents "appeared and testified at the hearing."  However, the Code does not provide that parties simply show up at a hearing and get stuff off their chest -- the filing of a Statement of Claim, and Answer, and Submission Agreements are contemplated under the Arbitration Code and (unless formally waived) should be conditions precedent to having the right to your day in court (or arbitration). 

Motion Practice

On or about February 9, 2011, Claimant DePalma filed a Motion to Bar Evidence and Defenses -- quite impressive for a pro se party.  The Respondents did not reply. Nonetheless, by Order dated April 26, 2011, the Arbitrator denied the Motion without prejudice with leave to renew at the hearing if Respondents appeared.

SIDE BAR: I'm sorry but this irks me.  Respondents didn't submit Answers or Submission Agreements and now they don't even reply to the Motion to Bar but the FINRA Arbitrator denies that motion without even imposing any sanctions?  If I'm missing something, then I would suggest that the FINRA Decision has not satisfactorily explained why the Arbitrator was so lenient to the non-existent Respondents.

At the conclusion of Claimant's case-in-chief, Respondents orally moved to dismiss the matter. Wow, talk about chutzpah. After considering all oral arguments, the Arbitrator denied the Respondent's Motion.


At the conclusion of the hearing, the FINRA Arbitrator found the Respondents jointly and severally liable and ordered them to pay to Claimant $53,076.92 in compensatory damages; and $225.00 to reimburse Claimant for the non-refundable portion of his FINRA filing fee.

Bill Singer's Comment

While I don't necessarily agree with the path that this case took, I certainly applaud the Arbitrator's Award.  The pro se Claimant DePalma earns kudos for filing this case and seeing it through to the end on his own.  At the end of the day, Claimant earned some $53,000 plus without so much as a penny in legal fees.  Too many cases like this and I could be out of business.