PNC Investments has moved to reverse a FINRA arbitration decision ordering the brokerage to pay a former rep $1.8 million for defamation and wrongful termination.

Adrienne Mennemeyer, a financial specialist with PNC in Wentzville, Missouri, won the award after convincing a FINRA panel in April that the firm unjustly ended her employment and made false statements on her Form U-5 that wrecked her reputation and her ability to earn a living in the securities industry.

Source: Bloomberg
Source: Bloomberg

In a complaint filed last week in Missouri federal court, PNC fired back at the panel, saying that it exceeded its authority by disregarding the law. It also criticized the $1.8 million award for both compensatory and punitive damages as contrary to public policy.

MAVERICK SENSE OF JUSTICE
"The FINRA panel was fully cognizant of the applicable and governing law, and deliberately disregarded what was before them, and applied their own maverick sense of justice," the bank's lawyer, Andrew Johnson of St. Louis law firm Littler Mendelson, charged in the complaint.

PNC accused Mennemeyer of altering a joint checking account application by changing the name of the account initiator and resubmitting it to avoid internal risk review of the application. It alleged on her Form U-5 that she was terminated for dishonesty and violating bank policy.

Mennemeyer vehemently disagreed with the bank's version of events, claiming that the bank's purported reason for the dismissal was a pretext. The real reason she was fired was tied to her longtime boyfriend's behavior one week before she started having trouble at the bank, she said during the FINRA hearing.

BOYFRIEND ISSUES
Mennemeyer's boyfriend one day allegedly called the PNC branch where she worked more than 20 times, leading one nervous employee to take his calls in the hope that he would stop calling. Mennemeyer was confronted about the telephone calls, accused of creating a disruption in the branch, and asked to seek a restraining order against her boyfriend, which Mennemeyer refused to do.

Mennemeyer refuted allegations that she was dishonest and violated bank policy, arguing that she was never informed that she was not permitted to change the first named individual on a joint account request for purposes of a credit check.

When completing the checking account application, Mennemeyer allegedly initially used the wife's name first and the husband's name second. When the application was rejected after a credit check, she redid the application using the husband's name first, at which point the application was accepted, according to her statement of claim.

"The reason stated for Ms. Mennemeyer's termination on her Form U-5 is, simply put, a sham," Mennemeyer's attorney, Lawrence Goldberg of St. Louis, wrote in her statement of claim.

Mennemeyer did not respond to a phone message seeking comment. She now owns and operates Olive Tree Market Place, an antique retail store in Wentzville, Missouri, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Mennemeyer worked for PNC from January 2012 to September 2015, BrokerCheck records show. Prior to that, she had been with Edward Jones for seven years.

Marcey Zwiebel, a spokeswoman for PNC Bank, declined to comment on the case.

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