Judge moves along lawsuit vs. ex-Stanford adviser

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Ex-Stanford adviser Neal Clement will appeal a recent chancellor’s decision that puts a lawsuit against him on track for trial.
“While we respect the Court’s decision,” said his attorney, William Ray of Jackson, “we believe binding arbitration agreements cover the claims in this case, and we plan to appeal the decision to the Mississippi Supreme Court.”
Last week, Chancellor Jacqueline Mask ruled that Burl “Walt” Walton’s lawsuit against Clement will stay in Mississippi and won’t be sent to arbitration.
In July, Walton of Tupelo sued Clement to recover his $430,183.09 life savings lost when the Stanford financial empire came crashing down amid revelations of a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation.
Walton and thousands of others sunk their savings into allegedly safe certificates of deposit bought through Stanford International Bank Ltd., based in Antigua.
Walton sued Clement, saying the then-adviser should have known things were going bad with Stanford and should have warned Walton to pull his money out before he lost it.
While Clement hasn’t answered the lawsuit’s allegations, he asked the court to dismiss it because Stanford’s court-appointed receiver is in Texas, to send Walton’s issues to arbitration and to stop his lawsuit during arbitration.
Mask said no to all requests.
“This is a great decision for investors who have claims against any Stanford financial adviser who recommended Stanford International Bank certificates of deposit to their clients,” said Walton’s attorney, Claude Clayton Jr. of Tupelo. “Walt Walton is very happy that the court denied Mr. Clement’s efforts to have his case dismissed, delayed, transferred to Texas or sent to arbitration. We look forward to a trial in Lee County.”
Walton is not the only former Stanford official in north Mississippi facing lawsuits.
Oxford attorney Guthrie Abbott, his wife and sister-in-law sued Stanford manager John Mark Holliday to recover their $750,000 citing similar allegations. Last November, Chancellor Kenneth Burns denied Holliday’s claims like Clement’s. Other Mississippi investors have sued former advisers in Jackson and Georgia.
Mask said the lawsuit rightfully belongs in Mississippi because Clement isn’t under the jurisdiction of the Texas court and isn’t protected by that court.
She also agreed with Walton that the investment contract’s arbitration agreement isn’t enforceable because it wasn’t signed by the proper Stanford officials.
Clement, she said, must prove the arbitration agreement is in force, which in this case, he failed to do.

Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com.