North Carolina broker Phil Taylor won a moral victory in arbitration--albeit a "shallow" one, he says. In December, an NASDR arbitration panel agreed that his former firm, Edward Jones, defamed him when it sent derogatory letters to some of his clients following his 1995 dismissal. A three-member NASDR arbitration panel ordered the St. Louis firm to pay $50,016, which Jones quickly coughed up.
Though the award was in his favor, it was much less than the $1 million Taylor and his attorney had asked for.
"Moral victories tend to be a bit shallow," says Taylor, now with IM&R. "I was stunned. Our expert witness had testified to actual monetary damages of approximately $650,000."
The defamation followed Taylor's dismissal from Jones in May '95 (see OddLots, September '97 RR, Page 38). Taylor, once an ordained Episcopal minister, says he was terminated for holding evening religious classes in his Smithfield, N.C., office without permission. After his departure, several of Taylor's clients inquired as to the reasons for his removal. In response, Taylor's regional manager John Beuerlein sent letters, copies of which have been obtained by RR, informing the clients that the true reasons for the dismissal went "far beyond" holding religious classes but that Edward Jones had agreed with Taylor not to disclose them. Taylor denies there were any other reasons for his firing, and claimed in arbitration that by sending the letters, the firm was attempting to disparage his character.
Taylor also accused his former firm of wrongful termination and religious discrimination. The arbitrators made no award based on those claims, but did give him money for defamation, according to an NASDR summary of the case.
"I've thought long and hard about how they came up with $50,016, and I cannot fathom how they came up with that figure," says Taylor's attorney, Mark Stites, of Berkowitz Feldmiller Stanton in Overland Park, Kan. "They obviously found that Edward Jones defamed Phil Taylor, and that they said things to his customers that weren't true. ... But Phil was damaged in an amount far in excess of $50,016."
Edward Jones did not respond to requests for comment before press time in early January.