A widowed receptionist who claimed Wells Fargo made unsuitable recommendations in her IRA has won a $50,000 arbitration award, the maximum award allowed in simplified arbitration proceedings.
The firm invested the widow's money in oil and gas securities, real estate investment trusts and junk bonds, investments that did not square with her financial situation and conservative risk profile, according to the widow's attorney Mark Tepper of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
She sustained approximately $67,000 in trading losses due to the firm's unsuitable recommendations, Tepper alleged.
The client was in her 60s, had limited assets and relied on her job as a receptionist as her primary source of income.
In addition to receiving $50,000 in compensatory damages, the widow was awarded $20,000 to cover her attorney's fees and $600 to cover her filing fees with FINRA. Wells Fargo was also ordered to pay the client interest on the $50,000 at an annual rate of 5.75% starting June 19, 2017 until the sum is paid in full, according to FINRA's arbitration filing.
"The award was a very favorable one for the client," Tepper said.
Wells Fargo declined to comment through spokeswoman Emily Acquisto.
Because the client did not want to take time off work to attend a three- to four-day arbitration proceeding, she opted for a simplified arbitration where discovery is more limited and costs are lower. Such arbitrations are decided by a single arbitrator without a hearing, which worked to the client's advantage.
"It would be difficult for her to miss three or four days of work," Tepper said. "She didn't want to threaten her job."