Upon leaving Merrill Lynch in 2003, three advisors say they joined Banc of America Investment Services — and moved with their families from the Cleveland area to Southern California — after allegedly being promised some $3 billion in assets and a $25 million book of business. These promises were not fulfilled, the reps say; in fact, they were terminated and later moved to Wells Fargo Investments.

In late September, though, NASD awarded the FAs about $3 million in deferred compensation and compensatory damages and dismissed BofA’s claim regarding the FAs’ promissory notes. The three advisors conduct business as the PIM Group, which includes Michael Parziale, Richard Ina, Daniel Morilak and a sales assistant (who remained in Cleveland).

“We feel that the panel found in our favor and denied BofA its claims to the loans,” says Morilak. “This tells us the panel heard what we had to say and indicated that [BofA's claim against us] was wrong.” Such a move against an institution over claims is somewhat unique, observers note.

Members of the PIM Group and their spouses are still pursuing compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorneys’ fees and costs in an ongoing lawsuit being handled by the San Diego Superior Court.

“It was extremely disruptive to move across the country,” says Morilak. “We based our choice on the opportunity we were presented with, which wasn’t to be.”

For its part, BofA intends to pursue the lawsuit vigorously in San Diego, according to spokesperson Shirley Norton. The branch manager involved in the NASD arbitration and the lawsuit, David Ohanian, is still employed by BofA in Southern California, she confirms.