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Baltimore, MD, Nov. 26, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A Baltimore City jury just awarded a $1,482,898 dollar judgment
against Baltimore financial advisor Gordon Witherspoon, and his
employer, UBS, for misconduct regarding a large life-insurance
policy. Headquartered in Zurich and Basel, Switzerland, UBS
has offices in more than 50 countries, including all major
financial centers, and employs approximately 63,520 people.
The jury found Mr. Witherspoon liable for
negligence, negligent misrepresentation, concealment, constructive
fraud and conversion. The jury also found UBS liable for
negligent supervision of Mr. Witherspoon. The jury also
found that Mr. Witherspoon committed his concealment and
constructive fraud with actual malice, and awarded $300,000 in
punitive damages against him.
"We are very pleased that the jury held these
defendants responsible and accountable for their flagrant
misconduct," said Andrew Slutkin, one of the members of the trial
team and a founding partner of Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin &
White. STSW is one of the leading law firms in the
mid-Atlantic offering clients years of experience, a unique
perspective and the will to win, which taken together provide the
way to win for clients.
"This verdict serves as a strong warning to
financial advisors to always put their clients' interests first,
and to financial firms to closely supervise their employees," said
Alex Brown, another STSW partner and member of the trial
Defendant Gordon Witherspoon, Jr. was an
insurance agent who orchestrated the theft of more than one million
dollars from his own sisters-in-law while he was an employee of the
UBS Defendants. After marrying into a wealthy family, he sold
his sisters-in-law a $4 million life insurance policy (the
"Policy") with an annual premium exceeding $100,000. Mr.
Witherspoon collected a healthy commission on the sale, but the
commission was not enough for him.
A licensed Maryland insurance agent, Witherspoon
preyed on the trust his family members bestowed on him as a
purported insurance expert to divert hundreds of thousands of
additional dollars to himself. He agreed to serve as the
broker of record for the policy and designated that all
correspondence from the insurance company be sent to him at his
home address. In other words, he arranged it so that all
correspondence pertaining to premiums was directed to him
Witherspoon told his wife's siblings that their
wealthy parents would gift them the premium, in amounts small
enough to escape the gift tax, as an estate-planning tool.
The siblings, however, needed to be the owners of the Policy,
and to personally pay the premiums, for the parents to transfer
their funds out of their estate, and thus avoid estate tax on these
The Policy premiums were paid through 1995, with
no payment in 1996. Although paid in 1997, beginning again in
1998 and continuing through to 2003, the Policy premiums were not
paid, resulting in loans being taken out on the policy to pay the
premiums. Witherspoon admitted he failed to inform Plaintiffs
that premiums were not paid, and that loans were occurring.
During this time, the UBS Defendants were tasked
with supervising Witherspoon, their employee. The jury,
however, found that UBS failed to supervise Witherspoon, allowing
the premiums to go unpaid while Witherspoon, the broker of record,
refused to tell the policy owners.
About Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin &
STSW is a national law firm of renowned, veteran trial and
appellate attorneys handling all aspects of civil and criminal
litigation in state and federal courts, administrative law,
business law, regulatory compliance, and Internet and privacy law.
We help our clients identify, avoid and resolve a broad range of
local, state, federal and international legal issues. STSW is
headquartered in Baltimore with offices in New York City and
Washington, D.C. For more information please call our offices
someone is available to take your call 24 hours a day, or visit us
on the web at www.mdattorney.com. All
consultations are complimentary.
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