Judge throws out Camarda case against CFP Board

U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon granted a motion for summary judgment and dismissed the lawsuit involving use of the fee-only compensation label

Jul 7, 2015 @ 3:10 pm

By Mark Schoeff Jr.

A federal court has thrown out a controversial lawsuit against the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. that centered on how the organization allows designation holders to define their compensation.

In a July 6 order, U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon granted a motion for summary judgment and dismissed the case against the CFP Board. The suit was filed in 2013 by Jeffrey and Kimberly Camarda, married financial planners who the CFP Board claimed improperly described their practice as fee-only in a profile on their website.

Mr. Leon's opinion will remain under seal for 14 days. At that time, the decision will be revealed, unless the parties can show cause for why portions must remain confidential.

The Camardas alleged that the CFP Board had unfairly disciplined them for violating its rules. The organization found that the Camardas, managing members of Camarda Financial Advisors, held themselves out as fee-only advisers when an arm of their firm, Camarda Consultants, sells insurance for commissions.

“CFP Board is very pleased that Judge Leon dismissed the case on the basis of deficient legal claims without the need for a trial,” Marilyn Mohrman-Gillis, CFP Board managing director of public policy and communications, said in a statement. “This ruling affirms CFP Board's authority to set and enforce its Standards of Professional Conduct, which serve as critical consumer protections.”

A spokesman for the Camardas was not immediately available for comment.

The CFP Board has been struggling with controversies over compensation definitions ever since it first filed a disciplinary case against the Camardas in March 2011.

In November 2012, the organization removed Alan Goldfarb as its chairman for mischaracterizing his compensation on the Financial Planning Association website.

In September 2013, the CFP Board temporarily removed the fee-only description from its website and told the 8,000 CFPs using the label to re-evaluate whether they complied with the CFP rules before resetting the label on their profiles.

The CFP Board sets and enforces the educational, experience and ethical requirements for the CFP mark, which is held by nearly 72,000 planners in the United States.

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