Port Neches couple blames broker for risky investments

Kelly Holleran Aug. 25, 2009, 6:34am

A Port Neches couple thought they were putting their money in conservative and safe investments, but claim their broker had actually sunk their funds into risky securities.

Earl and Mary Duhon filed a lawsuit Aug. 20 in Jefferson County District Court against Merrill Lynch Life Agency and broker Robert T. Shriver.

The Duhons say they opened an investment account with Merrill Lynch and hired Robert Shriver as their broker.

"Plaintiffs' Earl Duhon and Mary Duhon's investment experience is quite limited, and they have never had any formal training or education in investing," the suit states.

"At the time they opened an account with Defendant, their goal was to invest a certain amount of money into conservative, safe investments to earn interest and use the invested funds to earn more money without risking principal."

The Duhons agreed to purchase the securities Shriver recommended, but later discovered their money was placed in various investments that placed their principal at risk, according to the complaint. They also realized inappropriate fees were incurred on their various investments.

The Duhons blame Merrill Lynch and Shriver for breach of contract, for violating provisions of Texas's securities statutes, for violating the Texas Business and Commerce Code and for intentionally misrepresenting material facts they made to the Duhons.

In the four-count suit, the Duhons are seeking all sums they lost in the account on all transactions made or not made, all lost opportunities incurred as a result of the defendants' acts and a rescission of any or all transactions.

They are also seeking statutory and punitive damages, pre-judgment interest at the highest rate allowed by law, costs and other relief to which they may be entitled.

Chris Portner and Trent Bond of Reaud, Morgan and Quinn in Beaumont will be representing them.

The case has been assigned to Judge Bob Wortham, 58th District Court.

Jefferson County District Court case number: A184-751.

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