In the first of a long series of arbitrations through the National Association of Securities Dealers, a panel has awarded around $110,000 to an investor who had been sold variable annuities by John Steven Blount, a former broker for New York Life Securities. Blount has 97 customer complaints on record with the NASD, with the bulk of those pending arbitration.

Tom Filo of Cox, Cox, Filo & Camel, the plaintiff’s attorney, said the award decision came three weeks after the panel hearing in Houston. His client was awarded the return of 90% of market losses, plus interest and form filing fees. The total award is around $110,000.

The NASD recently proposed increased scrutiny of brokers with three or more customer complaints. Of 663,000 brokers registered with the NASD, 4,165, including Blount, would be subject to heightened supervision.

Filo said that his only disappointment in the case was that the panel did not include attorney’s fees, but he expressed optimism about further cases. Since the first arbitration, he has presented evidence that New York Life executives were aware of a number of customer complaints against Blount’s sales practices but subsequently made him "agent of the year."

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