In another installment of the incompetent/malevolent broker/dealer guidebook, Barclays Capital partially prevailed on a Motion to Vacate Arbitration Award filed against one of its former employees. In Barclays Capital Inc. vs. Elizabeth Bing Shen, 2008 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 2327, a NY Supreme Court judge (the lowest level trial court, interestingly enough) found that the ruling in Rosenberg v. MetLife barred recovery of punitive damages.
Rosenberg, as those who have been following this issue will recall, held that incorrect statements on a U-5 Termination Notice were absolutely privileged. In my opinion, regardless of whether you represent a firm or the broker, this is a wrong-headed decision that was decided by judges who ignored the impact on a broker's life a U-5 can have. There has been some discussion by commentators that there are ways "around" Rosenberg. Certainly, one of them is to avoid New York law in contracts. There are others as well, but if I shared them I'd have to shoot you.
Back to Ms. Shen. She was apparently owed a bonus and her U-5 was found to be erroneous by the arbitrators. By the description in the court's opinion, she does not qualify for "Employee of the Year" status by any means, but the arbitrators clearly felt that she didn't deserve the disclosure she received. They awarded her punitive damages.
The court found that the punitive damages could only have been for the U-5 defamation claim and, therefore, vacated that part of the award. We are currently representing brokers whose U-5s, we believe, are defamatory. We are not concerned about the New York choice of law provision because we feel that there are valid arguments against it when the the broker is in Florida. Nevertheless, this creates more stress and anxiety and creates a "free defamation zone" for broker-dealers, honorable and not.
That's the view from The Law Planet - Jupiter, Florida.