News

Donovan & Rainie Successfully Defends $7million Wrongful Termination Claim

Baltimore, MD (August 18 2015): The attorneys at Donovan & Rainie, LLC successfully defended a broker-dealer against a seven million dollar wrongful termination claim made by a former research analyst. Following a nine day hearing on the merits, a panel of FINRA arbitrators denied all of the claims asserted by the former employee, including her claims for punitive damages, attorneys’ fees and costs. In addition to her $7 million compensatory damage claim, the former employee sought to recover legal fees in the amount of $347,355, costs in the amount of $155,910.74 and unspecified punitive damages.

The former employee alleged that she was wrongfully terminated in retaliation for having complained to her supervisors and others about violations of certain securities laws, rules and regulations of self-regulatory agencies and firm policies. The broker-dealer asserted that the employment relationship was terminated as part of an overall reduction in the firm’s work force.

A copy of the arbitrator’s award may be obtained here.

USDC Dismisses Defamation Claim on Summary Judgment Motion

Baltimore, Maryland (August 22, 2013): The United States District Court for the District of Maryland today granted Defendant Fidelity & Guaranty Life Insurance Company’s Motion for Summary Judgment, dismissing a pro se plaintiff’s defamation claim. The Court held that Defendant was “entitled to summary judgment because there is no genuine issue of material fact, Defendant is protected by a conditional privilege and Plaintiff has failed to establish claims of defamation and libel per quod.” The Defendant is represented by Donovan & Rainie, LLC.

The Court found that the Plaintiff, who was an independent insurance agent, failed to satisfy the elements required to succeed in a defamation suit. The Court stated that the alleged defamatory statement, which was made to the Plaintiff’s customer, was not facially defamatory and the Plaintiff failed to provide extrinsic evidence demonstrating the statement’s defamatory nature. The customer who received the letter did not believe the statement to be defamatory, continued to do business with the Plaintiff, and referred at least one person to Plaintiff’s business. Importantly, the Plaintiff was, when pressed in his deposition, unable to support any of his damage calculations, having relied on dissimilar examples of verdicts obtained through the internet site VerdictSearch.com.

A copy of the Court’s opinion may be obtained here and also viewed on Westlaw at 2013 WL 4506271

Maryland Upholds Contributory Negligence Rule

Annapolis, Maryland (July 9, 2013): The Court of Appeals of Maryland today declined to abandon the common law rule of contributory negligence in favor of comparative negligence. Under the doctrine of contributory negligence, an individual is barred from recovering damages in a tort action if the individual is found to be in any way at fault. In reaching its decision, the Court of Appeals examined the long history of the contributory negligence in Maryland, which was adopted by the State in 1847, and the doctrine’s fall from grace in the majority of states. The Court of Appeals noted that the overwhelming majority of states that have abandoned contributory negligence have done so through the legislative process. However, the General Assembly has repeatedly failed to pass a bill that would change or modify the contributory negligence standard. This failure, according to the Court of Appeals, is evidence of a legislative policy to retain the principle of contributory negligence. Although the Court of Appeals has the power to abrogate the common law, the Court held that to do so here would be inconsistent with the its long-standing jurisprudence of deferring to the announced public policy of the legislature.

A copy of the decision, James Coleman v. Soccer Association of Columbia, can be found here.

Mutual Fund Investor Not a Customer of Affiliated Broker-Dealer

Richmond, Virginia (February 4, 2013): The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals today affirmed a ruling by the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, finding that a mutual fund investor who purchased fund shares through an unaffiliated broker-dealer on the open market was not a “customer” of the fund’s affiliated broker-dealer. The Fourth Circuit held that, because the investor was not a “customer” under FINRA Rule 12200, the investor had no right under FINRA rules to arbitrate. Priscilla Donovan of Donovan & Rainie, LLC was co-counsel in this matter, in which our client first obtained preliminary and permanent injunctions against the non-customer who filed a FINRA arbitration claim.

A copy of the decision, Morgan Keegan & Co., Inc. v. Silverman, can be found at Morgan Keegan & Co. Inc. v Silverman – 706 F3rd 562.