Thursday, February 4, 2010

Investors Filing Claims Against Lehman Brokers

Investors are starting to file arbitration claims against their Lehman brokers, in an attempt to collect their losses on investments in Lehman principal protected notes. I warned of this eventuality some time ago, as customers who lost money in the notes are going to look to recover those losses. Obviously suing Lehman is not going to accomplish anything, but some customers and their attorneys believe that suing the broker just might.

Lehman brokers have been through quite a bit. These professionals relied management's statements that "all is well" with the company, and were blindsided by the failure of Lehman.  The demise of Lehman was devastating for many, for not only did they lose their jobs, they lost their investments, their deferred compensation and for many, their retirement funds, which were invested in Lehman stock.

Now the other shoe is dropping. Many Lehman brokers recommended the principal protected notes to their customers, relying on the information provided to them by Lehman itself. With the corporation gone, these brokers are being forced to defend themselves from claims for those losses - in effect paying twice for the failure of their employer.

Those claims are going to be difficult for the customers to win, but the brokers still have to defend themselves from the claims. Should a customer prevail in an arbitration and obtain an award, that award has to be paid in 30 days, or the broker's securities license will be suspended. And an arbitration award can be confirmed in a court, at which time it becomes a judgment, enforceable like any other judgment.

The solution? Unfortunately there is no good solution. If customers are going to blame their broker for the demise of Lehman, the brokers must defend themselves. Using an experienced securities arbitration defense attorney is the first step, and hiring one who is familiar with Lehman principal protected notes is another. These cases will be difficult for the customer to win, but the experience of the attorney will not only provide a better chance for success, it might even result in reduced defense costs, as there is no learning curve.
Mark Astarita, Esq. is a securities attorney who represents brokers and firms in every aspect of their litigation, compliance and regulatory matters. He can be contacted at 212-509-6544 or by email at

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