Merrill Manager at Center of Harassment Claim Now at Southwest Securities – But Claims and Counterclaims Continue

Former Merrill Lynch employee Hydie Sumner sued that firm saying she was sexually harassed. She was represented by lawyer Linda Freidman. In 2004, a panel of three NASD arbitrators decided Hydie was right and awarded her $2.2 million. They also forced Merrill to reinstate her.

Meanwhile, an email was allegedly sent to Merill Lynch by Ms. Sumner’s attorney Linda Freidman, reportedly at Sumner’s direction, questioning Merrill’s ethics for employing “a man like [Blas] Catalani,” Sumner’s Merrill Lynch manager. According to Catalini, this defamed him and caused him to be fired, his clients were then distributed to other brokers at Merrill and he found it “extremely difficult” to becoming re-employed in the securities industry.

Catalini therefore filed a lawsuit against Sumner and her lawyer, claiming defamation. Not to be outdone, Hydie Sumner then filed a counterclaim against Catalini claiming that he damaged her reputation by reporting that she was the reason he was terminated by Merrill Lynch.

Making things more complicated, Catalini also filed suit against Merrill Lynch claiming sexual discrimination, saying that firm terminated him to make room for Sumner. The claims against Merrill have now been moved to arbitration.

How much damage has Catilini actually suffered? Apparently, he is now managing a seven broker private client unit in San Antonio for Dallas-based Southwest Securities. Reportedly, a spokesman for Southwest, Jim Bowman, stated: “We think there’s a growing market in [San Antonio] and we’re trying to grow that office.” Southwest Securities did not comment on Catalani’s ongoing lawsuit(s).

Who is the victim of what, when, why and to whom? Hard to say. But if you are keeping score: Hydie and her lawyer are a couple million ahead, Catalani is apparently doing well in River City, Merrill has already earned a couple of billion this year. I just wonder when anyone has the time to take care of investors – you know – the clients.

Shepherd Smith and Edwards has represented thousands of investors nationwide in claims against securities brokers and their firms. If you, your company or pension fund, or someone you know has been harmed by fraud, negligence or other wrongdoing by those in the securities industry contact us today to arrange a free consultation with one of our attorneys.

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