Suit claims investor acquired speculative stocks for 90-year-old client

Kelly Holleran Sep. 25, 2008, 8:40am

A woman has filed a lawsuit against a financial institution and one of its consultants, alleging the consultant put money in a highly volatile stock, causing its value to drop more than $500,000.

Carol Hollingshead, an independent administrator of the estate of Selma Elliott, claims Elliott created an investment account with Leonard Suess, a financial consultant at A.G. Edwards & Sons and also Elliott's son-in-law.

By February 2001, Elliott had accumulated 11,000 shares of Merck stock that had a value of $985,000, according to the complaint filed Sept. 22 in Madison County Circuit Court.

"Utilizing the value in her Merck stock, the Defendants opened a margin account for Ms. Elliott after she had turned 90 years old and acquired numerous high tech and speculative stocks such as Ariel Corp, Digital Island, Eageltech, Qualcom and Vaxgen," the suit states.

After the move, Elliott's stock values dropped significantly, resulting in a loss of more than $500,000, Hollingshead claims.

Elliott died Nov. 4, 2003, and Hollingshead was the administrator of her estate, according to the suit.

A.G. Edwards & Sons and Seuss breached their fiduciary duty by investing Elliott's assets in a manner "entirely inconsistent with her financial status, tax status, and investment objectives, and were not suitable investments for Ms. Elliott," the suit states.

Hollingshead claims they also "breached the agreements entered into with Ms. Elliott by failing to manage her investment accounts in a manner consistent with her age and objectives, thereby causing her and her estate to incur significant tax liabilities that further depleted the assets of the estate."

In the three-count suit, Hollingshead is seeking a judgment in excess of $1.5 million, plus costs and attorney's fees.

Mark C. Goldenberg and Holly A. Reese of Goldenberg, Heller, Antognoli, Rowland & Short will be representing her.

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