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VOL. 124 | NO. 39 | Thursday, February 26, 2009

McCarver Awarded $100K in Morgan Keegan Claim

By Andy Meek

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A LESSER VICTORY: Baseball announcer Tim McCarver poses in the press box before a 2003 American League game in New York. Although it’s not the $1.6 million he wanted, the Memphis native just won a $100,000 award in a claim against Morgan Keegan. -- AP PHOTO/KATHY WILLENS

Memphis native and sports broadcaster Tim McCarver has been awarded $100,000 in compensatory damages as a result of the arbitration claim he filed over losses from Morgan Keegan & Co. mutual fund investments.

The award was much smaller than the more than $1.6 million he sought, but McCarver’s lawyer told The Daily News his client was satisfied with the award.

“Morgan Keegan was found liable. I am delighted. Justice was served,” is the statement McCarver asked his lawyer, Dale Ledbetter, to share.

McCarver, who once was a catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals and is the namesake of the former Tim McCarver Stadium in Memphis, filed his arbitration claim last year against Morgan Keegan. The company assigned several brokers to work with the baseball icon when he first approached Morgan Keegan about handling his investments, and his claim mentions that as a native Memphian, McCarver liked the fact that Morgan Keegan is headquartered here.

McCarver began to lose money, however, when investments he allowed Morgan Keegan officials to handle were placed in several Regions Morgan Keegan mutual funds that lost the majority of their value during 2007, according to McCarver’s claim.

By no means over

The losses in those funds have spawned a wave of securities litigation and arbitration claims, and regulators have been looking into the causes of the funds’ meltdown.

New York-based Hyperion Brookfield Asset Management took over management of the troubled funds from Morgan Keegan during the summer. The firm, which also rebranded the funds under its Helios name, is not a party in any current claims or lawsuits filed by investors over their losses in those funds.

Memphis-based Morgan Keegan is a subsidiary of Alabama-based Regions Financial Corp.

Representatives of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, an industry panel referred to by the acronym FINRA, heard McCarver’s claim. Generally, the panel does not give reasons for its decisions.

“We will continue to vigorously defend each complaint,” said Morgan Keegan spokesman Eric Bran. “Because the arbitrators are not required to explain their findings, any attempt to explain the awards is, necessarily, speculation on our part.”

Morgan Keegan spokesman Kathy Ridley said no damages were awarded against the firm in three other arbitration cases whose results were announced in the past several days.

“In the fourth case, brought by Tim McCarver, the claimant received $100,000, which represented only 6 percent of his claimed loss of $1.6 million, and McCarver was assessed $7,500 in arbitration fees,” Ridley said. “Also in the past week, five other claimants with alleged damages of $2.68 million abandoned their claims in exchange for Morgan Keegan relinquishing any claims for its attorneys’ fees.”

Buyer beware

Among the highlights of his professional career as a ballplayer and broadcaster, McCarver played major league baseball for more than 18 years and played in the World Series in the mid-1960s for the St. Louis Cardinals.

“His extremely busy schedule, at first as a player and then as a broadcaster, made it virtually impossible for him to have any other outside business interests,” McCarver’s claim reads. “All investments in McCarver’s accounts were selected by Morgan Keegan. The firm knew that McCarver was a totally unsophisticated investor and that McCarver placed trust and confidence in Morgan Keegan to select specific investments in McCarver’s accounts.”

McCarver moved to Sarasota, Fla., in 2000, and sometime after his move, he sold his holdings in the Morgan Keegan funds.

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