Finra arbitration panel awards $500,000 to former Morgan Stanley rep

Broker and wirehouse embroiled in a three-year dispute over a promissory note

May 11, 2015 @ 12:00 pm

By Darla Mercado

A Finra arbitration panel last Thursday decided in favor of a former Morgan Stanley rep following a dispute between the broker and firm over an alleged breach of a promissory note.

In a disagreement dating back to December 2012, Morgan Stanley asserted that the former rep, John Offenburger, breached a promissory note that would be payable to the firm in full once the rep was no longer employed there, according to the award letter.

The wirehouse alleged that Mr. Offenburger's employment at Morgan Stanley was terminated on Oct. 5, 2012, and that he refused to pay the balance due, according to the award letter. Morgan Stanley sought $519,131.98 in payment, along with damages, interest, costs and attorneys' fees.

(More: Interactive Brokers ordered to pay $1.2 million arbitration award)

In response, Mr. Offenburger filed a counterclaim in April 2013 denying the firm's claims and leveling a slate of accusations against Morgan Stanley, including breach of contract, fraudulent or negligent presentations, defamation and tortious interference with business relations, per the award letter. The former rep claimed that he was forced to resign and that Morgan Stanley's agents made “false and defamatory statements” about him to his clients.

Mr. Offenburger also sought $1.395 million in damages.

The arbitration panel denied all of Morgan Stanley's claims, stating “that the promissory note was unenforceable and no fraud was proven,” according to the award letter.

Meanwhile, the arbitration panel awarded Mr. Offenburger $500,000 for his claim of lost income.

The panel decided that Morgan Stanley's promissory note to the former rep satisfies the award, meaning that the sum due to Mr. Offenburger has been paid in full, according to the award letter.

Calls to Mr. Offenburger's attorney James J. Eccleston were not immediately returned. Morgan Stanley spokeswoman Christine Jockle declined to comment.

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