Fallout from the subprime mortgage and general credit crisis has led to the collapse of Wall Street, revealing countless examples of investment fraud, stockbroker misconduct and professional negligence. To confront the individuals and entities responsible for perpetuating these actions, many investors are choosing to litigate their dispute.
The need to bring securities litigation may arise under a number of circumstances. Generally, securities disputes are resolved in FINRA arbitration. Occasionally, when no arbitration agreement exists between the brokerage industry and its customers, the dispute may be litigated in State or Federal court. More often than not, State and Federal litigation options are only available to institutional investors or when claims are being asserted as class actions.
The Litigation Process
In State or Federal court litigation, a complaint is filed on behalf of an investor, with a summons issued and served upon the defendants. The complaint initiates the action. The defendant must then respond to the plaintiff's complaint. The next step in the litigation process is discovery. Once an answer or counterclaim has been received by the court, a trial date will be set. If the matter cannot be resolved, the litigation generally concludes with a trial. The downside to litigation is cost and time. Both the discovery process and a trial can be expensive and time consuming.
During a trial, the attorneys for both parties will call witnesses and present evidence to support their claims. Each attorney has the ability to cross examine witnesses to refute assertions and evidence. Once all of the evidence has been presented and cross examined, closing statements are made. At the conclusion of the trial, a judge or jury then decides the final outcome of the case.
Appeals by losing defendants are common. The appeal of an adverse decision can be time consuming and expensive. As a general rule, defendants who have significant damages awarded against them will appeal those decisions.
Our Litigation Experience
The attorneys at Maddox Hargett & Caruso, P.C. are experienced in all forms of securities litigation. We have recovered losses for thousands of clients through arbitration, independent settlements, mediation, jury trials and class-action lawsuits.
If you believe you are a victim of investment fraud, stockbroker misconduct or professional negligence, the first course of action is to seek the advice of qualified legal counsel. To learn whether your dispute is best pursued through the judicial process, arbitration or mediation, contact Maddox Hargett & Caruso, P.C. and ask for a free consultation with one of our attorneys.
Remember, investors have rights when an investment firm, brokerage firm or registered financial advisor is negligent, fraudulent, violates the State and Federal securities laws or breaches fiduciary duties to clients. State and Federal securities laws, including the rules and guidelines governing self-regulatory organizations, exist to provide protection for investors. Keeping this protection intact is the very reason that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and individual states provide regulation over the securities industry.