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FINRA arbitrators deny firm’s breach of contract claims against former brokers

On Behalf of | Mar 1, 2023 | Firm Transition

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority issued an arbitration ruling in a dispute between a Texas company and two of its former independent brokers, a husband and wife team.

NexTrend Securities had filed a statement of claim against Scott David Offerman and Sonya Lee Gotz, who were with the firm from early 2019 to mid-2020. NexTrend had wanted to retain the couple’s clients, and accused the two of breaching their contracts with the company and misappropriating trade secrets.

But a three-member FINRA arbitration panel unanimously denied NexTrend’s allegations in their entirety. The company had been seeking actual damages of $1 million and exemplary damages of $3.2 million.

At the same time, the arbitrators also denied a counterclaim by Offerman and Gotz, who alleged breach of contract as well as misappropriation of trade secrets and confidential information. But the panel did approve the couple’s request to have the reasons for their departure from the company expunged from their Forms U5, based on the defamatory nature of the information. An attorney for Offerman and Gotz called the decision a “big victory” for his clients.

The arbitration panel was reported to have granted in part and denied in part the two sides’ request for a permanent injunction.

An attorney for NexTrend said the company was considering whether to attempt to have the award vacated, saying evidence that would have influenced the case was denied.

Transitioning employment in the financial services industry requires counsel that can evaluate any potential legal implications so you can properly manage risk and focus on transitioning your clients. Lewitas Hyman offers comprehensive and sophisticated counsel to clients nationwide, originating from years of advising financial firms and registered representatives on firm transitions. Whether you are moving to a new firm or looking to form a new one, we will work to limit the risks you face during this transitional period. For more information, contact Lewitas Hyman at (888) 655-6002 or through our online contact form for a free consultation.