Will Ferrell flops with Finra arbitration panel

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Nov 20, 2010 8:48 am

Actor, along with Larry David, loses arbitration case against J.P. Morgan Securities; 'not amused'


By Darla Mercado


November 18, 2010

<p>This time, superstar comedian Will Ferrell isn't laughing all the way to the bank.</p><p>Mr.

Ferrell, star of such movies as “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky
Bobby” and “Step Brothers,” last week lost a Finra arbitration case
against J.P. Morgan Securities LLC.

The former “Saturday Night
Live” performer, along with his wife, Viveca Paulin, business manager
Matt Lichtenberg and the Larry David living trust, filed the
arbitration claim with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc.
about two years ago. In it, Mr. Ferrell and Mr. David, star of HBO's
“Curb Your Enthusiasm,” claimed that J.P. Morgan had engaged in the
“unauthorized and unsuitable” purchase of $18 million in preferred
securities.

The group sought repayment, rescission of the purchase, and interest on the investments at money market rates.

J.P. Morgan shot back with a counterclaim, however, seeking dismissal of the complaint, plus legal fees.

On
Nov. 12, an arbitration panel decided in favor of the bank. The Finra
panel ordered Mr. Ferrell and the rest of the claimants to pay J.P.
Morgan $600,000 for costs and attorney's fees.

The group will
also have to cough up another $22,500 for “discovery abuse” and failure
to comply with discovery rules and procedures, according to the
arbitration documents.

“After three motions to compel discovery
by respondent and three orders from the panel, claimants were still
supplying ordered documents on the afternoon of the second day of the
evidentiary hearing,” according to the award letter.

“Such a
hard slap against Mr. Ferrell suggests that the panel was incensed by
either the conduct of Mr. Ferrell or that of his counsel,” noted civil
litigation and enforcement-defense attorney Richard Roth from the Roth
Law Firm. “Courts and arbitration panels are often much harder on
celebrity litigants than they are on regular Joes. But in this case it
sounds like the panel was particularly not amused,” said Mr. Roth.

The panel denied J.P. Morgan's counterclaims.

None
of the claimants appeared before the panel. Instead, Mr. Lichtenberg
appeared on their behalf, according to the award letter.

A call to Mr. Lichtenberg's office was not immediately returned.

Mr.
Ferrell's current movie, “Megamind,” is currently the top box office
attraction in the U.S, having pulled in nearly $90 million in its first
two weeks in theaters.