Tulsa law firm to file 100 claims against brokerage firms

Thursday, December 4th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- A hundred Oklahoma investors who allege their brokerage houses cheated them will seek restitution through claims with a national oversight group, a law firm announced Thursday.

The individual arbitration claims will be filed in the next two months with the National Association of Securities Dealers, the self-regulatory organization of the brokerage industry, said Mitchell Garrett, business manager for the David Garrett Law Office.

The claims come against more than a dozen Wall Street brokerage firms, he said.

"It's time for Main Street to take on Wall Street," Garrett said. "Now is the time to stand up against these scheming stock brokers."

He said many Oklahomans lost their retirements because of alleged deceit and fraud by brokerage houses. The claims allege that brokers hid investment banking relationships between their firms and stocks they hyped.

The law firm would get a portion of the restitution given to those who file claims.

Investors seeking restitution do not have to have legal representation to make a claim through the NASD, which has expected a rush of cases related to analyst conflict of interests.

The group encourages mediation, and most cases are settled, but about a third are heard before panels chosen at random from a pool of 8,000 public and industry arbitrators.

Mediation is an informal and non-binding approach in which an independent and trained neutral person facilitates negotiations between disputing parties, helping them to find their own mutually acceptable resolution.

Arbitration is a dispute resolution mechanism to help determine if aggrieved parties are entitled to recover damages. In arbitration, an impartial person or panel hears all sides of the issues as presented by the parties, studies the evidence, and then decides how the matter should be resolved. Arbitration is final and binding, subject to review by a court only on a very limited basis.

Securities lawyers say those seeking claims of less than $50,000 often find it practical to pursue restitution on their own using guidelines set forth by the NASD and the New York Stock Exchange, while those pursuing claims over $100,000 may have more of a need for an attorney.