An arbitration panel ordered Raymond James to pay nearly $600,000 to a former client who sought damages for alleged breach of fiduciary duty, churning, suitability and other misconduct.
While the client, David Silipigno, may have won the case, his award fell short of what he originally sought: $18 million in damages from Raymond James, according to the arbitration award issued earlier this month.
Neither David Silipigno nor his attorney, Timothy J. O'Connor, responded to calls seeking comment.
The arbitration panel also denied Raymond James' request to have the CRD of advisor Kaaren Powell expunged. Powell, who is affiliated with the firm's independent broker-dealer, was not named as a party in the dispute. Powell has been affiliated with Raymond James since 1999 and has no previous disclosures on her BrokerCheck record, according to FINRA BrokerCheck records. She could not be reached for comment.
A spokeswoman for Raymond James declined to comment on the case.
A 'STRIKINGLY LONG' CASE?
Silipigno filed his claim in January 2013, and the case extended over five pre-hearings and 31 hearing sessions from 2013 to 2015. The cost for the arbitration process totaled $41,700. The panel of three arbitrators ordered Raymond James and Silipigno to split the bill.
Tom Lewis, an attorney not affiliated with this case, says the number of hearings sounded high to him.
"I think that is strikingly long for this type of claim," says Lewis, an attorney at Stevens & Lee, a Lawrenceville, N.J.-based law firm.
He adds that the fact that the panel split the costs of the arbitration may suggest that the case was hotly contested. Otherwise, the panel may have simply ordered one side to pay all the costs.
Barry Lax, an attorney at New York-based Lax & Neville and who also is not affiliated with this case, didn't think that the number of hearings was exceptionally high. He adds that there are a number of reasons why the process can run longer.
"Even with run-of-the-mill cases, witness testimony may take a while. Or the discovery process may take a while," Lax says.
Sometimes it simply takes a while to go through reams of documents and emails, adding days to the arbitration process.
"We had one with 180 hearing sessions," Lax says.