The brokerage firm Janney Montgomery Scott, which fired a stock analyst for his controversial remarks about Donald Trump, has been ordered to pay the analyst $750,000 by a New York Stock Exchange arbitration panel.
The Philaldelphia-based firm fired analyst Marvin Roffman last March after he said the Trump Taj Mahal casino, then under construction, could face serious financial problems.One of the first to signal that Trump was facing financial problems, Roffman questioned the casino's ability to gross $1 million a day to cover interest costs and operating expenses.
In response, Trump not only complained about the negative comments but threatened to sue the brokerage.
Roffman's dismissal attracted criticism from many industry observers, who questioned the degree of impartiality permitted to analysts at brokerage houses.
They said securities analysts making critical judgments of companies often face opposition from the sales arms of their firms, which are looking for business from large investors in big financial deals.
Janney Montgomery said at the time that Roffman was fired not for being critical but for retracting a letter of apology he had written to Trump about the comments.
Although Roffman's comments focused on the Taj, just three months later Trump could not make an interest payment to bondholders on another casino property, the Trump Castle.
The high-profile developer has since defaulted on some bonds and reached an agreement with creditors to place the Taj, Atlantic City's glitziest casino, in bankruptcy.
Short of cash, Trump has skated from one debt crisis to the next trying to maintain a hold on his shaky but vast real estate and casino empire.
A stock exchange spokesman said the panel did not give reasons for its decision.
Roffman had sought $3 million in the proceedings - $1 million for defamation, $1 million for wrongful discharge and $1 million for the "intentional infliction of emotional distress."
Roffman, who was employed by Janney Montgomery for 16 years, is also suing Trump for $2 million for defamation and wrongful interference with the brokerage firm.
His lawyer, Martin Sobol, said the ruling vindicated his client. Roffman was on a Caribbean cruise until Sunday.
Sobol said Roffman plans to launch a money management business in Philadelphia. He has been unemployed since being fired by Janney Montgomery.
Trump Organization officials were unavailable for comment.
Janney Montgomery President Norman Wilde said that under the stock exchange's ruling, which cannot be appealed, the brokerage must pay Roffman $150,000 immediately and $75,000 a year from 1992-1999.
"We do not think the verdict was merited by the facts," Wilde said. "But as a member of the stock exchange, we will pay the fine as directed and put the case behind us."