Sarbanes-Oxley Whistleblower Claim Award

Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Robert D. Kraus
MetLife Whistleblower Wins $2.5M In FINRA Suit

Besides granting Roganti compensatory damages, the FINRA panel also denied Roganti’s request for punitive damages and assessed $36,450 in hearing session fees to MetLife.

MetLife retaliated against him for attempting to contact the audit committee of Metlife’s board of directors, Roganti said in the claim that he filed in 2004 with the National Association of Securities Dealers Inc., the predecessor to FINRA.

Roganti also filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Labor in 2003 and 2004 alleging MetLife had violated the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, according to the claim. Both were denied at the time.

The retaliation included reducing Roganti's compensation and benefits, undermining R. Roganti Associates — a Metlife agency based in White Plains, N.Y., of which he was managing partner — and threatening him with termination, according to the FINRA claim.

Roganti, who had been employed with MetLife since 1971, accused the company of Sarbanes-Oxley, breach of contract and Employee Retirement Income Security Act violations.

MetLife sued Roganti in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, hoping for a declaratory judgment that the company did not have to arbitrate his Sarbanes-Oxley claims before the NASD, in 2004. The case was dismissed in 2006.

Roganti’s attorney, Robert Kraus, said Wednesday his client is no longer with the company. Kraus said he and his client were pleased with the award and suggested the case shows the merits of FINRA as a forum for arbitrating such disputes.

“I think although it was a long road and a hotly contested arbitration, it shows that individuals can still obtain substantial awards before FINRA,” Kraus said.

MetLife had fought to have the FINRA claim dismissed with prejudice. Roganti during the hearing requested compensatory damages between $11.5 million and $32.8 million, according to the award filing.

A representative for MetLife did not immediately return a request for comment Wednesday.

Roganti was represented in the FINRA case by Kraus and Pearl Zuchlewski of Kraus & Zuchlewski LLP.

MetLife was represented by Steven Yarusinsky of Proskauer Rose LLP and Rachel B. Cowen of Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker LLP.

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