A financial arbitration panel has ordered  a subsidiary of John Hancock Financial Network to pay nearly $1.6 million to an elderly California couple and the estate of their now-deceased mother.  The sum includes a $454,000 award for attorneys’ fees under California’s elder abuse statutes.  Florida has a similar financial abuse of the elderly statute.

Edward Blank and Doreen Baker Blank, along with Della Baker, who died in 2012 at age 103, placed their entire retirement savings in the hands of James Glover, a broker with Signator Investors, owned by John Hancock. Glover invested $1 million of the money in a Texas real estate venture that Glover said would generate a steady income but that suspended payments in 2012.  Glover did not disclose that he was a managing member of the venture. 

The Blanks are among more than 40 clients who claimed they were hurt financially by Glover. Signator has maintained that it was unaware that Glover was investing in securities not held or offered by them, a practice called “selling away,” and that it was not responsible for his actions.

In March, an arbitration panel of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) awarded the Banks $954,000 in compensatory damages and $181,000 in interest, plus the legal fee award. The binding award also granted Signator’s cross-claim against Glover for breach of contract, fraud and negligence and ordered him to pay Signator $1.35 million.

“The FINRA arbitration panel awarded our clients almost $1.6 million for the losses they suffered in this selling-away case,” said the Banks’ attorney, Lance McCardle, as reported in Investment News. “Our clients lost all of their retirement savings as a result of Glover’s breach of fiduciary duty and fraud and Signator’s failure to supervise Mr. Glover during the 14 years he worked at Signator in the Towson, Md., office.”

If you, or your elderly parents, have been victimized by a financial advisor, you may want to consult with counsel who is familiar with the Florida statute governing financial abuse of the elderly.

To read the arbitration panel’s ruling, Docket No. 13-00579, click here.

For a Wall Street Journal article on the award, click here.

For a discussion of the award by Prof. Katherine Pearson of Penn State Dickinson Law School, click here.

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