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Larry Hagman Wins $11M from Citi in Securities Arbitration

By Laura Strachan, Esq. on October 12, 2010 10:06 AM

Former "Dallas" star Larry Hagman is walking tall these days. The 79 year-old actor was recently awarded an $11 million judgment in a securities arbitration suit with Citigroup. A financial industry regulatory authority arbitration panel recently ruled that the financial giant must pay $10 million in punitive damages to charities selected by Hagman, $1.1 million in compensatory damages, and $440,000 in legal fees.

The New York Daily News reports that Larry Hagman sued Smith Barney brokerage division (which was previously owned by Citigroup) for breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, fraudulent misrepresentation, failure to supervise, and violations of state and federal laws relating to securities. He originally sought $1.35 million in damages. All the causes of action stem from various securities accounts and a life insurance policy held by Hagman. Very few details have been released in this case.

The panel found that Citigroup engaged in serious misconduct, which helps to explain the sizeable punitive damages award. The Daily News quotes a Citigroup spokesman: We are disapointed and disagree with the panel's findings, and we are reviewing our options. The options available to Citigroup are not as simple as they would have been if this was a more traditional court decision.

Securities arbitration is a popular form of dispute resolution for this area of law. Arbitration decisions are not subject to appeal. Rather, Citi's options in this case would be limited to filing a motion to vacate the panel's decision which would essentially be asking the court to cancel the initial award. In order to do so, Citi would have to successfully show some form of fraud or misconduct (either in the award or on the part of the panel), or that the arbitrators somehow exceeded their powers.

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