U.S. District Court Evaluates FINRA Arbitration Decision in High-Stakes Severance Dispute Between UBS and Former Portfolio Manager

Plaintiff Stephen P. Finkelstein (Finkelstein) was a portfolio manager for Dillon Read Capital Management (Fund), a hedge fund operated and owned by defendants UBS Global Asset Management (US) Inc. and UBS Securities LLC (together, UBS).  In early 2007, Finkelstein received a bonus in the amount of $25 million based on the Fund’s 2006 performance.  During the financial crisis that unfolded during 2007, the Fund showed losses of more than $300 million attributable to Finkelstein’s trades.  Finkelstein’s trading authority was suspended.  UBS closed the Fund and eventually terminated Finkelstein.  UBS had an ERISA-governed severance plan in place and adopted a “Supplemental Program” for Fund employees who might not otherwise be eligible for bonuses due to the timing of the Fund’s closure.  Eligible employees could receive a bonus equal to 25% of their 2006 bonus.  Finkelstein put in a claim for a bonus in the amount of $6.25 million, which UBS denied based on the huge trading losses incurred by the Fund as of April 2007.  Finkelstein submitted the claim to arbitration through FINRA Dispute Resolution.  The arbitration panel denied his claim.  Finkelstein then commenced an action in U.S. District Court seeking to overturn the arbitration decision.  We summarize the District Court’s decision with respect to Finkelstein’s claim and the Court’s legal analysis.

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