Arbitrators Must Detail Attorney Fee Awards

In Response to Florida Supreme Court Ruling, Attorney Fee Awards Provide Necessary Detail

HARE & POLO TRUSTS v. GRUNTAL & CO., LLC, NYSE ID # 2000-008643 (Ft. Lauderdale, 5/17/01):

In apparent response to the Moser decision on attorney fees in arbitration, arbitrators have begun stating how they have disposed of certain statutory claims. As we have previously reported (SAA 01-16) ,the Florida Supreme Court has directed arbitrators within the state dealing with statutory claims to indicate whether those claims that might support an award of attorney fees were the basis for any amounts awarded. This directive came in a decision that the Court issued on April 5, 2001 in a securities-related matter, Moser v. Barron Chase Securities, Inc.

We expect that the SROs (and other arbitration providers) would be developing procedures to respond to the new Moser regime, so we were interested to see this recent NYSE Award, in which a Florida-based Panel issued the required findings.

The two Revocable Living Trusts in this case were established by two elderly women, who alleged, on behalf of the Trusts, “unsuitable trading in high-risk domestic and international junk bonds on margin….” The “Case Summary” only indicates that the claims included alleged “violation of Federal and State Statutes,” but the Arbitrators’ “Decision” makes it clear that a Florida securities act claim was present.

The Panel awards $200,000 to the Trusts, adding that “there was no finding of liability under Florida Statute 517.301; [and] that there is no entitlement for attorney’s fees to respondent under 517.211 as the demand of attorney’s fees as such would be an unjust entitlement….” (SAC thanks to Lonnie K. Martens, Kelley & Warren, P.A., West Palm Beach, FL, for alerting us to this Award. Ms. Martens, who represented Claimants, indicates that there was another interesting aspect to this Award, i.e., that the Trusts won damages on certain trades even though, over the life of the accounts, there were no “net” losses.) (SAC Ref. No. 01-22-02)

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Nothing herein is intended as legal or financial advice. The law is different in different jurisdictions, and the facts of a particular matter can change the application of the law. Please consult an attorney or your financial advisor before acting upon the information contained in this article.


Mark J. Astarita is a veteran securities attorney representing investors and financial professionals nationwide in securities investigations and arbitrations. Have a question? Email him at, call his office at 212-509-6544, or visit The Securities Lawyer

Securities Attorney at Sallah Astarita & Cox | 212-509-6544 | | Website | + posts

Mark Astarita is a nationally recognized securities attorney, who represents investors, financial professionals and firms in securities litigation, arbitration and regulatory matters, including SEC and FINRA investigations and enforcement proceedings.

He is a partner in the national securities law firm Sallah Astarita & Cox, LLC, and the founder of The Securities Law Home Page -, which was one of the first legal topic sites on the Internet. It went online in 1995 and is updated daily with news, commentary and securities law related links.