A former Morgan Stanley complex manager who felt he was forced to resign is set to receive $1 million in compensatory damages from the firm, according to a new ruling from an arbitration panel.
A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority panel ruled in favor of the former Morgan Stanley manager, Gregory Carl Torretta, in a decision signed earlier this month. The award falls short of Torretta’s requests for relief, which included $8 million to $9 million in compensatory damages at the end of the hearing. The FINRA dispute resolution documents do not provide further details about how the three-member arbitration panel came to its decision.
"We disagree with the decision and are considering our options,” a Morgan Stanley spokeswoman said on Monday.
The $8 million to $9 million in compensatory damages that Torretta requested came from a calculation of his lost earnings over the two-year period before the arbitration hearing was held. It also included a projection of what Torretta would have earned in the next 10 years had he stayed in his position at the firm, his lawyer, Marc S. Dobin, founder of Jupiter, Fla.-based firm Dobin Law Group P.A. said.
Torretta filed his arbitration claim in May 2011, several months after his departure from Morgan Stanley. Torretta had transitioned from serving as a regional director for branches in upstate New York, Long Island and northern New Jersey to a complex manager for two offices in Garden City, N.Y., as the firm streamlined its regional leadership.
That is when the conflict arose, according to Dobin. Torretta was in the process of overseeing a branch manager who was underperforming, when that branch manager sent an email to the firm’s upper management complaining about Torretta. Following a meeting with management and during that same week, Torretta was told he had to either resign from the firm or be fired. Torretta chose to resign.
Dobin, Torretta’s lawyer, said he was not given ample opportunity to respond to the allegations, an issue that became the crux of the arbitration hearing.
The departure from Morgan Stanley also came at a bad time for Torretta, Dobin said, as many management positions in wealth management firms had been cut across the board.
“Particularly with the consolidation that has occurred within the brokerage industry…jobs at a large complex, jobs at a regional director level, are fewer and farther between,” Dobin said.
Though the arbitration award came in short of the $8 million to $9 million range that Torretta had asked for, Dobin said his client feels vindicated by the decision and is happy with the award amount.
“He feels that the arbitrators saw his point, and agreed with him that he should have been given the opportunity to state his case to his employer,” Dobin said of Torretta, who now serves as a branch manager for Ameriprise in South Florida.
“Three years ago, this is not where he (Torretta) envisioned that he would be,” Dobin said, “but he’s happy with where he is now.”