A three-person panel of arbitrators in Orlando, Florida, ordered Cetera Financial division Cetera Advisors to pay $3 million in damages on Thursday to a former broker at the company who alleged Cetera wrongfully terminated him in 2019.
In a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority arbitration dispute, Gerald Fasanella also asserted: breach of contract, implied contract, and duty of good faith and fair dealing; defamation; defamation per se; tortious interference with a business relationship and contract; and violation of FINRA and other industry rules.
In his statement of claim, Fasanella requested, among other things, unspecified compensatory damages, lost earnings and benefits damages including future earnings and benefits, and punitive damages.
At the FINRA arbitration hearing, he requested damages between $1.5 million and $3.6 million, an unspecified amount in punitive damages, $10,000 in expert witness fees, and expungement of the Form U5 termination notice that Cetera filed against him in 2019.
Cetera had requested the arb panel dismiss the claim in its entirety and award it legal fees.
The arb panel decided Cetera was liable for $3 million in damages, as well as the $10,000 in expert witness fees Fasanella requested. It also ordered the firm to reimburse Fasanella $375 for the non-refundable portion of the filing fee he had paid to FINRA Dispute Resolution Services.
Additionally, the panel recommended the expungement of Cetera’s reason for termination and explanation of termination in Fasanella’s Form U5, which had said he ”was terminated after customers alleged that the advisor executed trades in their accounts without their authorization,” according to his report on FINRA’s BrokerCheck website.