Advisor Wins $1.7M from Wells Fargo for Wrongful Termination
An arbitration panel awarded an ex-advisor more than $1.7 million from Wells Fargo for wrongful termination and other misconduct.
At the same time, the panel also rejected the firm's claims for damages related to a breach of a promissory note.
The arbitration dispute started after advisor Bruce H. Tuchman was discharged in June 2013 for allegedly failing to follow Wells Fargo's policy with regard to "contacting customers prior to entering orders," according to a note in his BrokerCheck file.
Tuchman, a 32-year industry veteran, joined the firm from Smith Barney in 2009, according to FINRA BrokerCheck records. He has only one client complaint listed on his BrokerCheck record, and it was denied in 2000.
In September 2013, Wells Fargo filed a claim in arbitration, requesting that Tuchman pay the firm back about $200,000 for breach of promissory, according to a copy of the arbitration award.
A month later, Tuchman responded with a separate claim, seeking damages for wrongful termination, defamation, breach of contract and other misconduct. Also seeking damages was Michelle H. Tuchman for breach of contract and conversion. Their relationship is not clear from the award documents.
Neither of the Tuchmans nor their New York-based attorney, Eric Shames, returned calls seeking comment.
Also named with Wells Fargo in the dispute was Frank Dyer, a complex manager in Albany, according to the firm's website. He did not return calls seeking comment. A spokesman for Wells Fargo declined to comment.
Both sides denied the allegations against them, according to the arbitration award.
BIG CLAIMS, BIGGER CLAIMS
Bruce Tuchman asked the panel for $416,000 in compensatory damages, the return of $128,000 converted from his Wells Fargo brokerage account, $2.85 million for lost compensation and expungement of his CRD record. Michelle Tuchman requested $81,000 converted from her brokerage account. Together, they also asked for $8.55 million for damages to their reputation.
At the conclusion of arbitration hearings, the Tuchmans upped their claims, requesting, for example, almost $18 million in punitive damages.
For its part, Wells Fargo closed the hearings by requesting that the panel grant the firm about $231,000 in principal plus interest on the promissory note, nearly $500,000 in attorney's fees and additional money for unspecified punitive damages.
In a decision made earlier this month, the panel of three arbitrators awarded the Tuchmans some, but not all of the damages that they sought: more than $1.8 million, including attorney's fees. The arbitrators also ordered the expungement of Tuchmnan's record; the reason for termination will be changed to "other" and the explanation to "terminated without cause," according to a copy of the arbitration award.
At the same time, the panel rejected Wells Fargo's claims for damages related to the promissory note and dismissed claims against Dyer.
As is typical in FINRA arbitration cases, the arbitrators did not provide an explanation for their decision.
The cost for the 2 pre-hearings and 27 hearings – about $34,000 – were divided evenly between the two parties.
Bruce Tuchman is no longer a financial advisor; he now works as a self-employed consultant in Saugerties, N.Y., according to his LinkedIn profile.