Brokers Beware: Treble Damages for the Financial Exploitation of Elderly Investors as Alternative to Punitive Damages in Florida

Chapter 825 of the Florida Statutes provides extra protection for elderly investors in Florida. When filing claims against their brokers before FINRA, elderly persons in Florida may seek treble damages for financial exploitation under Florida Statutes § 825.103. This section imposes liability for exploitation of an elderly person or disabled adult, which is defined in part as

Knowingly, by deception or intimidation, obtaining or using, or endeavoring to obtain or use, an elderly person’s or disabled adult’s funds, assets, or property with the intent to temporarily or permanently deprive the elderly person or disabled adult of the use, benefit, or possession of the funds, assets, or property, or to benefit someone other than the elderly person or disabled adult, by a person who:

1. Stands in a position of trust and confidence with the elderly person or disabled adult; or

2. Has a business relationship with the elderly person or disabled adult. . .

Under Florida Statutes § 772.11, treble damages may be imposed for violations of § 825.103(1). Punitive damage awards in FINRA cases are rare, perhaps in part due to the requirement that arbitrators produce a reasoned opinion for the award. By awarding treble damages under Florida law, a FINRA arbitrator is able to impose particularly steep penalties for broker misconduct while bypassing the reasoned opinion requirement.

Such an award in the amount of $800,000 was imposed this month against Raymond James Financial Services and two of its brokers, Jodi Isidith and Mitchell Holeve. The award related to Isidith’s alleged conversion of an elderly claimant’s funds, however, no explanation was given for the award. For a copy of the award, see in the Matter of the Arbitration Between Wechsler v. Isideth, Holeve, and Raymond James Financial Services. 

If you are an elderly investor in Florida and think you may have been exploited by your broker, please contact the Investor Rights Clinic.