John J. Baker, Natalie N. Baker and John Baker, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Harriet B. Baker vs. Merrill Lynch Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Incorporated - Index No. 11-108492
Justice J. Lobis of the Supreme Court of the State of New York has denied Merrill Lynch's Motion to Vacate an $880,000 FINRA Arbitration Award against Merrill Lynch for purported sales practice abuses concerning the Merrill Lynch Phil Scott Team and the Merrill Lynch Phil Scott Team Income Portfolio. In its Decision, the Court stated, "there is no basis for the court to vacate the Award...Respondent has not made a showing that it was subject to a fundamental unfairness such that it was deprived of a fair hearing." Accordingly, the Court confirmed the FINRA Arbitration Award against Merrill Lynch. During the arbitration process, Lax & Neville LLP focused on the Merrill Lynch Phil Scott Team's disregard of industry and regulatory obligations. The Claimants asserted that the Merrill Lynch Phil Scott Team ignored the Claimants' individual risk tolerances and investment objectives when it recommended that 100% of Claimants' assets be invested in the Merrill Lynch Phil Scott Team Income Portfolio, which consisted of 100% equities. The FINRA Arbitration Award, which was rendered against Merrill Lynch on June 23, 2011, awarded the Claimants $880,000 in compensatory damages, and granted Claimants' Motion for Sanctions "assess[ing] fees for hearings on discovery to Respondent as sanctions against Respondent for untimely compliance with the Panel's orders to compel the production of documents."