If you have been the victim of fraud, negligence, or other misconduct involving your investments, Stoll Berne will vigorously represent your interests in securities arbitration before the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and in state or federal courts. Our lawyers are recognized by Oregon Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers of America, and others as preeminent securities fraud lawyers.
We have represented hundreds of investors in securities arbitrations and trials, helping them recover losses from unsuitable investments, fraud, churning, unauthorized trading, margin disputes, Ponzi schemes, theft, negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, elder abuse, and many other types of misconduct involving investments.
We are based in Oregon and regularly appear before arbitrators and judges in Oregon, Washington, California, and across the country. Potential clients should be careful when picking a lawyer. Many law firms and lawyers on the Internet appear to based in Oregon, but they often are from other states and are not familiar with developments in Oregon law, local judges, arbitrators, local court customs, and procedures. If in doubt, ask the lawyer how to pronounce “Willamette,” and give us a call if it doesn’t sound right.
We will have an initial meeting with you at no cost to discuss your case. We also may represent you on a contingent fee basis, meaning you do not pay our attorney fees unless you recover damages from the defendant.
Types of cases we can help with include:
State and federal securities laws offer protections for investors. There are a variety of claims under securities laws, including claims for fraud and violation of registration requirements. The Oregon securities laws in particular offer strong protections for investors that are unlike the protections available in many other states. For many investors who have been harmed by fraud or other investment misconduct, a claim under the Oregon securities laws may be available. We are experts in Oregon and federal securities laws and routinely advise investors and even other lawyers about securities claims.
Investment and securities fraud come in many forms. We often look for misrepresentations or omissions by the business who sold an investment or the people who helped them sell the investment. Ask yourself if someone lied to you or did not tell the whole story when you invested. An investor may have a claim for fraud under the common law along with a claim for fraud under state and federal securities laws.
Your investment advisor owes you fiduciary duties. Fiduciary duties mean investment advisors are held to a high standard of conduct. Fiduciary duties include honesty, full disclosure, care, and loyalty. In many cases involving a breach of an investment advisor’s fiduciary duties, we see the advisor putting their interests first. We look for evidence of excessive or unnecessary fees, misrepresentations, omissions, unsuitable investments, and other misconduct when evaluating whether an advisor breached their fiduciary duties.
Your investment advisor or broker should consider many things about you and your goals when recommending or managing your investments and when making trades. This should include your investment objectives, risk tolerance, age, employment or retirement, the total value of your portfolio, financial goals, and investment experience. Clients may find themselves with unsuitable investments or investments that are not in their best interest when an advisor or broker does not make recommendations or manage your investments according to your goals and needs. One example of this we have seen many times are advisors and brokers who put an investor’s money in high risk, illiquid, and often poor performing products or trading strategies because of high fees and commissions paid to the advisor or broker.
Oregon and many other states have strong protections for older investors and investors who are vulnerable or disabled. Under Oregon law, anyone over the age of 65 or who is a vulnerable person who suffers damage because of financial abuse should consider a claim for financial elder abuse. In Oregon and other states, a successful elder abuse claim may increase the damages that are recoverable and give the plaintiff the right to have the defendant pay the plaintiff’s attorney fees.
Investment firms have a duty to reasonably supervise brokers, advisors, and representatives. This duty is intended to keep the investment industry honest. It requires firms to take actions and implement procedures to supervise and monitor investment professionals. Because of an employer-employee or similar relationship, firms may also be responsible for the actions of investment professionals under the legal doctrines of agency, vicarious liability, and respondeat superior.
Investment industry standards, including the standard of care, mean that your investment advisor and broker owe you a duty of care. When an investment advisor or broker fails to use reasonable care and you have suffered damages as a result, you may have a claim for negligence.
Your broker must have permission from his or her firm to sell you an investment. This requirement is in place to protect investors and allow brokerage firms and broker-dealers to conduct required due diligence of investments and supervise brokers before an investment is sold. In selling away transactions, a broker does not have permission to sell an investment but does so anyway. These brokers may be motivated by high commissions or other compensation. Selling away cases often also involve unsuitable investments and fraud.
Churning refers to a broker or investment advisor who buys and sells investments excessively in an investor’s account. The excessive trading is usually of no benefit to the investor and causes losses. Brokers and advisors who churn are often motivated by commissions and fees that are paid to them in connection with trades.
In a class action, one or more people seek to represent a group of people who have suffered the same wrong by one or more defendants. Class actions can be a powerful tool for investors or group of investors who suffered relatively small amounts of losses to combine their claims into a single case. Mass actions also involve a group of people in the same lawsuit. Unlike a class action, in a mass action each plaintiff is treated as an individual and must prove certain facts. Mass actions involving a group of investors typically involve large losses by each individual in the group and similar conduct toward each individual by the defendant.
In Ponzi and pyramid schemes, the promoters use funds from investors to pay profits to earlier investors. The scheme falls apart when the promoters can no longer raise enough funds from new investors to pay earlier investors. In many cases, the underlying business or investment has little or no actual value. Ponzi and pyramid schemes, like other investment fraud, often involve promises of above average investment returns.
In a margin account, a broker-dealer lends an investor cash to purchase securities. The account is used as collateral for the loan. A margin account enables an investor to leverage their investments, but the potential for higher returns also comes with increased risk of larger losses. An investor with a margin account could even lose more money than was initially invested. Margin trading is very risky and not suitable for most investors. The risk of trading on margin may increase with market volatility. Brokerage firms have a duty to inform an investor about the risks of trading on margin. If a firm breaches this duty, the firm may be liable to the investor for losses. Sometimes brokers or investment advisors even trade on margin without permission from the client or without even telling the client.