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Doctor wins $425K from retirement advisers

An arbitration panel has awarded nearly $425,000 to a Clay County doctor who alleged that the Wells Fargo brokerage improperly allowed his ex-wife to tap into his retirement account during their marriage.

Dr. Mark Schroeder of Liberty, an internal medicine physician, initially sued Wells Fargo Advisors, Holloway and Harman Capital Management of Liberty and three of its financial advisers in Clay County Circuit Court.

The June 2014 lawsuit alleged that LaLisa Schroeder “embarked on a campaign” of taking money from her then-husband’s IRA from August 2001 through July 2010. The suit says Schroeder convinced the defendants to improperly change the address of record for the retirement account from the couple’s home to a post office box that only she monitored.

The complaint accused her of withdrawing $317,078 from the retirement account through “forged signatures (and) falsified documents.” The couple divorced in September 2010.

Mark Schroeder only learned of the withdrawals in January 2012 after requesting copies of his financial records from Wells Fargo Advisors, according to the suit. He asserted violations of Missouri’s Merchandising Practices Act, breach of fiduciary duties, negligence, negligent supervision and breach of contract.

The dispute entered arbitration through the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority in early 2015, with the three-member panel ruling in the physician’s favor on June 15 of this year.

The panel agreed to a request to dismiss the Wells Fargo Financial Network, First Clearing, Holloway and Harman Capital Management and brokers Sean Douglas Harman, Jeffrey Paul Holloway, Timothy Lee Tadlock and Kirk D. Ward – who was not named in the lawsuit – “based on a lack of evidence that the moving parties were involved in the alleged violations,” according to a copy of the ruling. The claim proceeded against Wells Fargo Advisors.

“Numerous questions by the panel and respondents’ attorney to the claimant and claimant’s counsel for evidence of involvement and fault by Harman, Holloway, Tadlock and Ward drew only the response that their names appeared on periodic account statements,” the panel wrote in its ruling. The arbitration panel also agreed to expunge references to the dispute from the brokers’ individual FINRA registrations.

In addition to the nearly $320,000 Schroeder said was improperly withdrawn from his account, the panel awarded an additional $106,693 in legal fees.

A Wells Fargo attorney who represented the St. Louis brokerage in arbitration did not respond to a request for comment.

$423,771 arbitration award
Breakdown of value: $317,078 in compensatory damages, $106,693 in legal fees
Venue: Clay County Circuit Court
Case Number/Date: 14CY-CV05291/June 15, 2016
Arbitration Case Number: Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, 15-00074, Kansas City
Caption: Mark A. Schroeder, M.D., v. Wells Fargo Advisors, Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network, First Clearing, Holloway and Harman Capital Management, Sean Douglas Harman, Jeffrey Paul Holloway and Timothy L. Tadlock
Plaintiff’s Attorney: Chad C. Beaver, Beaver Law Firm, Kansas City
Defendant’s Attorney: Michael Naccarato, Wells Fargo, St. Louis

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