The claims originally brought by a 76-year-old woman who died last fall after suing Fisher Investments, alleging that the company founded by billionaire Ken Fisher mismanaged her trust assets and forced her to pay nearly $1 million in taxes, will be decided in arbitration, lawyers for both sides told a judge.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Gregory W. Alarcon approved the agreement between the parties on Thursday and stayed the lawsuit pending the outcome of the arbitration.
Fisher Investments maintained that the late plaintiff, identified only as Jane Doe, signed an agreement with Fisher Investments containing an arbitration clause. She then filed an opposition to the motion to compel arbitration.
However, Doe’s successor, who is not identified in court records, ultimately agreed to arbitrate the claims.
In her suit filed in January 2020, Doe alleged financial elder abuse, constructive fraud, intentional and negligent misrepresentation and putting the defendant’s interests head of those of the plaintiff. She sought triple damages on the elder abuse claim and unspecified punitive damages.
The suit stated Fisher Investments’ success is attributable in part to “extremely aggressive advertising and sales tactics” that include television and internet ads and “filling millions of mailboxes across the country with its fliers.”
The suit included copies of screenshots of Ken Fisher and one of his company’s ads.
Doe established the trust to hold assets she inherited from her mother and an aunt. She wanted to provide for her family and “help ensure a bright future for them,” according to her court papers.
The woman was plagued with health problems in her adult life, including a stroke in her 50s, the suit stated. She also had the majority of her liver removed, had eyesight problems that prevented her from even reading a computer screen and had been in a wheelchair since about 2014, according to the suit.
Doe’s husband first responded to an ad from Fisher Investments in 2009, but found a salesman to be overly aggressive and declined the company’s services, according to the complaint, which says the couple nevertheless continued to receive solicitations by phone and mail. He also turned down another overture from Fisher after a dinner presentation in 2017, the suit stated.
But in April 2018, a Fisher representative made a visit to the couple’s home and, after reviewing financial documents reflecting the strategy of her then-money manager, called the latter’s performance “woefully subpar,” according to the suit. The representative said the person had failed her by not changing the positions of her investments over the years, and maintained that Fisher Investments had the best returns compared to its competitors, according to the plaintiff.
Months later, Doe signed up with Fisher Investments to have the company take over the management of her trust assets without being offered an explanation of the terms of the agreement, the suit alleged.
In December 2018, Doe and her husband learned they would have to pay close to $1 million in taxes due to Fisher’s alleged miscues with Doe’s trust assets, according to the lawsuit.
In mid-May 2019, after the couple paid the taxes due, they demanded that Fisher Investments rectify their tax situation and a company representative said he would look into it, according to the suit, which says they later received a letter “flatly denying their request.”
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