The Wolper Law Firm is currently investigating claims against Michael Barnett, a former Financial Advisor at Hilliard Lyons in Marion, Illinois Michael Barnett has been in the securities industry since 2010 and previously worked for Edward Jones
According to publicly available records released by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Michael Barnett has five pending customer complaints, two of which relate to his alleged unlawful sale of Breitburn Energy, which filed for bankruptcy. Breitburn Energy, LP is an oil and gas company that issues securities sold to retail customers. When oil prices declined in 2014 and 2015, Breitburn Energy became insolvent and investors lost substantial sums of money. Breitburn declared bankruptcy and was forced to secure special financing to fund its operations.
Financial Advisors, like Michael Barnett, sold Breitburn Energy to customers and touted the high yield associated with the investment. Many investors did not appreciate or understand that higher yield requires investors to assume greater risk. In addition, many investors did not appreciate that the price of Breitburn Energy was correlated to the price of oil.
Michael Barnett’s customer complaint record is substantial given his short career in the securities industry:
- June 2018—“Claimant alleges..breach of fiduciary duty, violation of the Kentucky Consumer Protection Act…blue sky laws…Specifically, the Claimant alleges over-concentration and losses in Breitburn Energy…” Alleged damages are $42,791 and the matter remains pending.
- June 2018–“Claimant alleges..breach of fiduciary duty, violation of the Kentucky Consumer Protection Act…blue sky laws…Specifically, the Claimant alleges over-concentration and losses in Breitburn Energy…” Alleged damages are $30,7371 and the matter remains pending.
- May 2018—“Claimants allege breach of fiduciary duty, violation of Illinois Securities Act…negligence…common law fraud…” Alleged damages are $60,000.
- November 2017—“Claimants allege misrepresentation, unsuitable investments, and unauthorized trading in a single security…” Alleged damages are $1.5 million and the matter remains pending.
- January 2017—“Client alleges unauthorized trading of an unsuitable security.”
- September 2017—An arbitration award was rendered against Hilliard Lyons for $450,000 plus $100,000 in punitive damages, based on sales practices of Michael Barnett. Hilliard Lyons moved to vacate the award and it was settled before resolution by the court.
Financial advisors have a legal and regulatory obligation to recommend only suitable investments that are appropriate for their clients’ needs and objectives. In addition, Financial Advisors must first obtain authorization from their customers before placing trades in a customer account. Their employing brokerage firm has a legal and regulatory obligation to supervise the Financial Advisors’ sales practices and dealings with clients. To the extent any of these duties are breached, the customer may be entitled to a recovery of his or her investment losses.
If you or someone you know was a customer of Michael Barnett, and you experienced investment losses, please contact the Wolper Law Firm at 800.931.8452 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your specific situation and the legal options available. The Wolper Law Firm represents investors nationwide in securities litigation and arbitration.
Matt Wolper, the Managing Principal of the Wolper Law Firm, is a trial lawyer who has handled hundreds of securities cases during his career involving a wide range of products, strategies and securities. Prior to representing investors, he was a partner with a national law firm, where he represented some of the largest banks and brokerage firms in the world in securities matters. Simply put, he knows how the other side evaluates cases, which gives you a competitive advantage.