A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) arbitration panel has reportedly awarded an investor more than $1 million due to a securities broker’s misleading statements. In FINRA case number 16-00226, Grace Huitt purchased a variable annuity from Oklahoma-based Wilbanks Securities in 2008. At the time of her purchase, a Wilbanks Securities broker purportedly promised Huitt a minimum return on her investment of seven percent. About four years later, Huitt sold the ING Landmark Variable Annuity without realizing the promised profit. As a result, Huitt sought $2.5 million in damages from Wilbanks Securities for fraud, breach of contract, negligent supervision, and breach of fiduciary duty.
Wilbanks Securities responded to Huitt’s case by asserting that her claims were time-barred. Following arbitration proceedings, an all-public FINRA panel denied the securities firm’s counterclaim and awarded Huitt $536,720 in compensatory and $536,720 in punitive damages. Although Huitt purchased the annuity through Wilbanks Securities’s Grand Junction, Colorado office, punitive damages were levied against the brokerage firm under Oklahoma law.