Securities Litigation and Class Actions
The Attorneys at Scarlett & Hirsch have over thirty-eight (38) years of combined experience handling arbitration proceedings for victims of stockbroker and brokerage firm misconduct. We aggressively represent our clients seeking recovery of money lost through improper investments.
Securities Litigation & Arbitration
Securities arbitration is used to resolve the majority of customer securities fraud claims brought against the securities industry.
As a customer of a brokerage firm, you are required to sign an agreement mandating arbitration to govern all disputes. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has empowered the Financial Regulatory Authority (FINRA), an organization tasked with investor protection, to be the forum to hear all customer disputes involving their brokerage accounts. Examples of the most frequently encountered types of misconduct include, trading accounts without clients’ authorizations (unauthorized trading), making investment recommendations inconsistent with clients’ investment objectives (unsuitability), and unauthorized and/or excessive use of margin.
The arbitration process is meant to be a more expeditious and informal process than the typical court proceeding. A panel of one to three arbitrators, appointed to the proceeding much like a jury is selected, conduct the arbitration proceeding evaluating evidence and testimony from both. After all the evidence is presented, the arbitrators will arrive at a decision which is binding for both parties. Unlike court proceedings which involve an extensive pre-trial process consisting of formal discovery and depositions along with the possibility of appeal after judgment, the arbitration process does not utilize all of these formal procedures, nor does it go to the extent of a formal trial or allow for appeal except under extremely limited grounds.
Securities – A Regulated Industry
You can file complaints with the SEC. Your reports may even result in investigations, disciplinary actions or criminal charges taken against a stock broker or brokerage firm. However, the focus of the SEC is to correct and regulate the industry, not to recover money for you if your account has been mishandled resulting in lost savings or retirement funds. Your recovery of funds will be determined through arbitration.
For this reason, hiring a lawyer to represent you in securities arbitration proceedings is a wise decision. Arbitration proceedings follow rules established by the SEC and most likely will be arbitrated in a forum under FINRA.
How do I know if I am a victim of misconduct in my brokerage account?
There are many types of misconduct that can occur in customers’ brokerage accounts, and not all are easy to identify. Examples of the most common types of misconduct include unsuitable investment recommendations; unauthorized trading; failures to follow investors’ instructions; misrepresentations and/or omissions regarding investments; excessive trading; charging of excessive commissions; improper and/or excessive use of margin; outright fraud (including falsification of account-related documentation, unauthorized transfers, disappearing funds); and a host of other improper conduct.
Unsuitable investing is a very broad term, with respect to misconduct that can occur in brokerage account requiring a brief explanation. Unsuitable investment recommendations are most often perpetrated upon innocent, unsophisticated investors. A financial advisor may recommend only investments that are suitable for a particular investor based upon that investor’s investment objectives (income or growth); risk tolerance (conservative, moderate, aggressive or speculative); age, prior investment experience; financial wherewithal. Brokerage firms often disregard these factors, placing their own financial interests ahead of their customers. Specifically, brokerage firms often benefit much more by making risky, as opposed to conservative, investments in their customer’s accounts. Risk is not the only thing that determines the suitability of an investment. An investment is also unsuitable when a stockbroker purchases an unreasonably large (over-concentrated) position in a particular security (stock, bond, annuity, auction rate security, options, ETF, mutual fund, bond fund, etc.).
These are just some things to look out for, and any questions regarding how your investment account(s) have been handled should be directed to an attorney. Our experienced legal team has been instrumental in recovering millions of dollars of stock market losses and other damages for investors. We thoroughly investigate all potential claims for recovery of losses. We are fully competent to handle even the most complex investment loss cases.
Scarlett & Hirsch provides clients with a degree of service akin to that of a large firm, while offering a level of individual attention the hallmark of a family-style firm. Our clients are more than case numbers—they are individuals and they appreciate the hard work and dedication that we put into every case.
Civil litigation is the process in which civil matters are resolved in a court of law. Civil matters can be described as situations dealing with relationships between people, such as a contract dispute. Scarlett & Hirsch, P.A. is a full service civil litigation firm which represents individuals and businesses throughout the State of Florida. Our attorneys have a genuine concern for clients’ rights and are here to assist before, during, and after a dispute arises.
We provide assistance with all types of general civil litigation in both state and federal courts including but not limited to:
Breach of contract claims and defenses, corporate litigation involving business disputes, actions for fraud, tortious interference with contract, unfair and deceptive trade practices, civil fraud, civil theft, breach of fiduciary duty, shareholder derivative actions infringement of intellectual property rights and unfair competition.
Residential and commercial evictions, disputes for failure to pay rent, abandonment, quiet enjoyment claims, security deposit claims, disputes involving sub-leasing, and disputes regarding tenant improvements.
Real Estate Disputes
Complaints between real estate agents and brokers commissions, disputes involving the purchase and sale of property, and disputes involving homeowner’s associations.
Probate Estate Litigation
Wills and trusts interpretations, will and trust contests, breach of fiduciary duty actions against trustees, undue influence claims, and beneficiary representation.
Some of our recent civil litigation related matters have included:
- Representation of clients with regards to action for default on promissory notes.
- Representation of client with regards to products liability.
- Representation of client with regards to employment discrimination.
- Representation of plaintiffs in nationwide class actions involving securities fraud.
- Representation of real estate agent with regards to security deposit return after breach of contract.
- Representation of a corporate board members involved in a shareholder derivative action
The attorneys at Scarlett & Hirsch, P.A. tailor our legal services to provide practical solutions for the varied issues you may be experiencing. Our litigation philosophy includes realistic counseling of clients prior to the institution of, and throughout the litigation process. The process begins with an investigation and evaluation of a client’s claims and/or defenses, and an analysis of our client’s rights, duties and obligations in order to effectively evaluate the case consistent with our client’s expectations and goals. By engaging our clients and effectively counseling them concerning the litigation process, our clients have the opportunity and tools to make more informed decisions; specifically on whether to litigate or settle disputes.
Our attorneys value your time. With years of experience in civil litigation, mediation and arbitration, our attorneys make every effort to assist our clients in avoiding litigation where appropriate. However, if the need for litigation arises, our diligence, ingenuity and meticulous preparation gives us an edge as confident, effective advocates who fight for our clients rights.