Merrill Liable for $6 Million to Estate of Elderly Couple

A Florida jury has ordered Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. to pay $6 million to the daughters of a New Jersey philanthropist and his wife. The claims against Merrill Lynch included that its broker took advantage of the elderly couple’s deteriorating mental condition in order to convert their money into investments that paid he and the firm higher commissions.

The suit also claimed the Merrill broker falsely told Mr. Rothman in three letters that the investments carried no fees or sales commissions. An attorney for the heirs said that Merill and its brokers made at least $2.5 million in fees on the Rothmans’ $32 million investment in variable annuities, while the investors only made $600,000.

“The verdict is astonishing in light of the undisputed fact that the Rothmans, who were wealthy, sophisticated investors, made $10 million on the annuities at issue, and did not lose money,” a Merrill spokesman said. “The verdict is unjustified by the facts and law.”

The Merrill spokesman added that the firm will seek to have the verdict set aside by the court and will appeal the verdict it is not. Meanwhile, the issue of whether punitive damages may also be added to the verdict has yet to be determined by a jury.

Shepherd Smith and Edwards represents investors nationwide in claims against securities firms. We have represented investors in more than 1,000 securities cases, including many against Merrill Lynch. To learn whether we may be able to assist you with a claim contact us to arrange a free consultation with one of our attorneys.