Fishman Haygood Wins $307K for Client Against VSR Financial Services
February 4, 2016
On February 4, 2016, an Arbitration Panel awarded Fishman Haygood clients, Herbert and Margie Doucet, a $307,000 award in a case against VSR Financial Services. The case originally included five claimants, but three settled prior to the start of the hearing. The remaining claimants, Mr. and Mrs. Doucet, were awarded nearly the full amount of compensatory damages requested in spite of VSR’s argument that the claimants had experienced a net out of pocket gain.
The case involved certain alternative investments (non-traded real estate investment trusts, promissory note programs, limited partnerships, and private oil drilling programs) sold by former VSR representative Gregory Martin Ellis from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as well as allegations that VSR failed to properly supervise and train its representatives. Mr. Ellis passed away in March 2010, but he previously operated under the EA Financial Group.
Mr. Ellis and others in the former Baton Rouge VSR office have been the subject of more than 50 customer complaints relating to the sale of alternative investments. Following a long-term FINRA investigation, Mr. Ellis’ former associate Michael Dan Shaw entered a settlement with FINRA in October 2011 (AWC No. 2010022963601) in which he agreed to be permanently barred from the securities industry. Mr. Shaw was previously a party to this case, but he and another claimant settled prior to the hearing. Another former VSR representative from Baton Rouge, Steven Stahler, entered a settlement with FINRA in November 2014 (AWC No. 2012031734402) in which he agreed to pay a fine of $15,000 and to be suspended from the securities industry for 6 months.
VSR agreed to its own settlement with FINRA in May 2013 relating to FINRA’s allegations that it failed to properly supervise its representatives’ sales of alternative investments (AWC No. 2012032353201). In its settlement, VSR agreed to a public censure and to pay a fine of $550,000.
Mr. and Mrs. Doucet were represented by Lance McCardle, partner with Fishman Haygood in New Orleans. The case number is 15-00834.