FINRA Panel Doesn't Buy

A customer who was “fired” by RBC Capital Markets LLC sought revenge and filed a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitration claim against the firm and its broker, Greg Buckner. (FINRA# 11-00349; Marilyn Strauss Levy v. RBC Capital Markets LLC and Greg Buckner).

The Statement of Claim filed in January 2011 alleged that Buckner made unauthorized trades, charged excessive fees and churned her account, among other things. She was seeking $25,000 in compensatory damages. Because of the amount of damages sought, the case was heard by a single arbitrator.

The evidentiary hearing was conducted telephonically and the Claimant, Ms. Levy, elected not to engage in the oral hearing and offered no oral or documentary evidence of any wrongdoings to support her claim. On the other hand, the Respondents, RBC Capital and Mr. Buckner, offered “clear and cogent evidence to disprove” the Claimant’s allegations. Furthermore, Mr. Buckner testified that there were only a few sales in the Claimant’s account and a Turnover Analysis revealed that the account had a very low turnover ratio. Buckner further testified that Ms. Levy had authorized and approved each and all of the transactions, with one exception. She questioned the sale of DuPont stock and after hearing her complaint the sale was rescinded.

The Respondents also produced evidence indicating that the total fees charged by the firm was only $2,100 on an account with an average equity value of $373,574; that the account enjoyed a 12% return consisting of dividends and growth; that the asset allocation was in keeping with her investment objectives of “balanced/conservative growth,” and produced a letter from the Claimant dated July 2010 apologizing for her “panic attacks” and thanking Mr. Buckner for his “time and patience.”

The sole arbitrator rendered her decision after the telephonic evidentiary hearing, as follows: “In reading all of Ms. Levy’s written statements, it is evident that she was upset at being “fired” as a client by Respondents. Her case against Respondents appears to be one of retaliation and without merit. The lack of any concrete evidence to support her claims requires that they be rejected and that Mr. Buckner’s clean record remain intact.” The expungement hearing was held on July 26, 2011 and the Claimant elected not to participate and the expungement was granted.

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