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Blackwell v. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division

May 28, 2014

HAROLD E. BLACKWELL, JR., Petitioner,
v.
MERRILL LYNCH, PIERCE, FENNER & SMITH INC., Respondent

Page 566

Harold E Blackwell, Jr, Plaintiff, Pro se, Greenville, SC.

For Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner and Smith, Defendant: H. Landis Wade, Jr., LEAD ATTORNEY, McGuireWoods, LLP, Charlotte, NC.

OPINION

Page 567

ORDER

Graham C. Mullen, United States District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on a petition to vacate an arbitration award pursuant to the Federal Arbitration Act (" FAA" ), 9 U.S.C. § 10(a), filed pro se by Petitioner Harold E. Blackwell, Jr. (" Petitioner" ). (Doc. No. 1). Respondent Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc. (" Respondent" ) is Petitioner's former employer.

Page 568

Having reviewed the record, Petitioner's Motion to Vacate (Doc. No. 1), and Respondent's Response in Opposition (Doc. No. 7), Petitioner's Motion to Vacate will be DENIED for the following reasons.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

On September 23, 2013, Petitioner brought this action to vacate an award made in arbitration following his termination as a Financial Advisor for Respondent. Petitioner began his employment with Respondent on July 27, 2005, and was terminated on September 16, 2009. (Resp't Resp. at 3, Doc. No. 7). During his employment, Petitioner was subject to certain employment policies and has admitted to violating at least three of them. ( Id. at 3-5). On September 16, 2009, Respondent met with Petitioner to discuss its investigation into Petitioner's misconduct. ( Id. at 7-8). After this meeting, and because of Petitioner's violation of company policies and lack of cooperation in the investigation, Respondent terminated Petitioner. ( Id. at 8). The reasons for termination were set forth in the Form U5--a form Respondent was required to complete pursuant to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (" FINRA" ) bylaws. ( Id. ).

After his termination, Petitioner filed an arbitration claim against Respondent, which was administered by FINRA. ( Id. at 1). In his Second Amended Statement of Claim, Petitioner asserted claims for negligence, gross negligence and recklessness, defamation, and invasion of privacy. (Second Am. Statement Claim at 9-12, Doc. No. 1-1). These claims arose from the investigation leading to Petitioner's termination, the termination itself, and Respondent's completion of the Form U5. ( Id. ).

On August 20, 21, and 22, a three-person arbitration panel convened in Charlotte, North Carolina to conduct the arbitration of this dispute. ( Id. at 2). At the conclusion of Petitioner's case-in-chief, Respondent made a Motion to Dismiss. ( Id. ). After receiving Petitioner's evidence and hearing the arguments of both parties, the Panel convened and subsequently granted Respondent's Motion to Dismiss. ( Id. at 2-3).

On September 23, 2013, Petitioner, proceeding pro se, moved this Court to vacate the arbitration award. (Mot. Vacate, Doc. No. 1). Petitioner asserts four " causes for vacatur" of the arbitration award. Accordingly, he asks this Court " to order the FINRA panel's award be vacated" and " to issue an order compelling the arbitration of his claims . . . before a ...


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