Plaintiffs lawyer Scott "Scotty" Baldwin Jr., and his family's partnerships and trusts have settled their case against Baldwin's former accountants— a dispute that arose, the plaintiffs allege, after the value of their investments dropped from more than $15 million to $6 million.
On June 3, a federal magistrate judge dismissed the plaintiffs' claims.
That follows an agreed motion to dismiss the case and a settlement agreement filed on May 31.
Baldwin's lawyer James Wes Christian, a partner in Houston's Christian Smith & Jewell, saysthe 5th Circuit had issued a rare denial of a motion to compel arbitration earlier in the case.
Richard M. Forrest of the Forrest Law Group in Houston who represents the defendants, did not return two calls seeking comment.
In an amended complaint filed on March 1 in the Eastern District of Texas in Marshall, Baldwin and the other plaintiffs alleged that the defendants — accounting firm Cavett, Turner & Wyble; firm principal Clifford Cavett, who is a certified public accountant and a certified financial planner; and the accounting firm's other two principals, Robert Wyble and Larry Turner — had conspired to move the plaintiffs' assets into investments recommended by the defendants, leading to losses in 2008 of $6 million, which were not fully tax deductible.
The plaintiffs alleged in that complaint that they had investments prior to 2008 valued at more than $15 million.
Against all the defendants, the plaintiffs alleged four violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C. §1962, and conspiracy. Against only Cavett and the accounting firm, the plaintiffs alleged fraud in the inducement, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, negligence, accountant malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty.
The defendants sought to compel arbitration, arguing to the 5th Circuit that Cavett had provided advice to Baldwin as a broker covered by an arbitration agreement.
On Nov. 6, 2012, the 5th Circuit upheld the district court's denial of the defendants' motion to compel arbitration because no signed arbitration agreement existed and because Cavett was acting outside of his role as an agent of a registered securities brokerage.
The defendants also sought to dismiss the claims. In an affidavit attached to the defendants' Sept. 28, 2011, motion to dismiss, Cavett states: "The plaintiffs' alleged securities losses were caused by Scott Baldwin's decision to liquidate a substantial portion of the plaintiffs' securities portfolio, against my investment advice. But for that independent decision by Scott Baldwin to liquidate, the plaintiffs would not have realized a loss and would not have incurred any alleged negative investment consequences."
Baldwin refers all questions about the case to his lawyer.
Christian says his clients are happy with the outcome. But he notes, "The settlement terms are confidential."