Investors are disappointed, to say the least, that a federal judge recently dismissed an investor class action lawsuit related to the sale of Apple REITs by David Lerner Associates Inc. However, stock fraud lawyers say that this decision will have absolutely no impact on arbitration cases filed against Lerner with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).
In May 2011, a complaint was filed against Lerner by FINRA, regarding the firm’s Apple REIT marketing practices. In October 2012, FINRA ordered Lerner to pay $2.3 million for allegedly overcharging clients who had purchased other securities. Lerner was also ordered to pay $12 million to the trust investors. Founder and chief executive, David Lerner, was barred for one year from the securities industry and fined $250,000.
The class action raised allegations that Lerner breached fiduciary duty, was unjustly enriched and negligent in the sale of over $6.8 billion in Apple REITs. Though the class action has been dismissed by a federal judge, Lerner still faces many arbitration claims alleging the unsuitable recommendation of Apple REITs. According to securities arbitration lawyers, the question of misrepresentation is completely different than the question of suitability. Even if an investment firm adequately discloses all the risks of the investment, the investment must still be suitable for each investor receiving the recommendation given their age, investment objectives and risk tolerance. Furthermore, in some cases oral misrepresentations at the time of sale- which were not at issue in the class action- can be a basis for liability in a FINRA arbitration if a stockbroker misrepresented the nature of an investment to a customer.
Non-traded REITs have given rise to a significant number of arbitration proceedings alleging that they are that they are risky and illiquid, were unsuitably recommended for sale, or formed an unsuitable over-concentration in an investor’s account at the recommendation of a broker or adviser. Stock fraud lawyers continue to file claims on behalf of investors who purchased a number of non-traded REITs from their full-service brokerage firm, including the Apple REITs sold by Lerner.
If you purchased the Apple REIT or another non-traded REIT that was unsuitable for you at the recommendation of your broker or adviser, you may have a valid securities arbitration claim. To find out more about your legal rights and options, contact a securities arbitration lawyer at Law Office of Christopher J. Gray, P.C. at (866) 966-9598 for a no-cost, confidential consultation.