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Recent Flood of Multi-Million Dollar Arbitration Awards for Investors

Three multi-million dollar arbitration awards recently issued by FINRA have some industry observers and plaintiffs' attorneys believing that the arbitration process is becoming fairer to investors.

In the last two months, over a period of 11 days, FINRA: awarded Larry "J.R. Ewing" Hagman $11.5 million in a case against Citigroup Glbal Markets Inc., ordered Morgan Keegan & Co. to pay 18 investors a total of $9.2 million, and handed Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp. a $4.4 million loss in a case involving approximately 24 investors. That's a total of $25.1 million awarded in approximately a week and a half.
Rick Ryder, the president of Securities Arbitration Commentator Inc., believes the increase in lawsuits filed by institutions against brokerage firms has increased the average claim and contributed to the large awards. "I've been noticing this all year," he said in the article. "The stakes are higher."

The $11.5 million award to Hagman was one of the 10 biggest awards to an investor in FINRA history, according to a follow-up article written by InvestmentNews on Oct. 17. And, this month's $9.2 million award against Morgan Keegan & Co. was the largest award issued by a FINRA panel against the firm, which has had 110 arbitration cases filed against it so far. As 2010 draws to a close and the number of investor claims against brokerage firms continues to rise, many professionals in the industry expect to see this trend continue.