Monday, April 10, 2006

TD Will Seek to Have Lawsuit Dismissed

Canadian Press, Rita Trichur, 10 April 2006

TD Bank, which is among a group of defendants named in a $45-million (U.S.) lawsuit involving the bank's 2001 acquisition of options-exchange company TD Options LLC, will seek to have the case dismissed when it formally responds to an amended complaint over the next week.

The lawsuit, entered in the Circuit Court of Cook County in Illinois, is being pursued by options traders at the Chicago Board of Options Exchange, who allege they were shortchanged by the bank and others when their share in the options business was acquired.

The allegations have not been proven in court.

Spokesman Jeff Keay told The Canadian Press that TD has until Monday to respond to the plaintiffs' third amended complaint which was filed with the Chicago-area court last month. Part of that response will be an application to dismiss the suit.

"We hold that their allegations have no merit whatsoever and we look forward to contesting this vigorously in court," Keay said.

The plaintiffs' new complaint is shorter, eliminating two previous legal counts, a source said on the condition of anonymity. Judge Lee Preston threw out a previous complaint last month, requesting more specifics, the source said.

"I am confident the third amended complaint contains the necessary information and legal theories in order to advance the case," said Randall Gold, a lawyer for the plaintiffs.

According to court documents, the roster of defendants also includes TD Holdings USA, TD Securities, TD Equity Options, TD Options, along with individuals Martin Walton, Jason Marks, Evan Kimmel, John Stafford Jr. and his son, John Stafford III.

His other son, James Stafford, along with Ronin Capital LLC and Quantitative Analytics LLC are no longer named as defendants.

The plaintiffs include Michael Benson, Edward Dolinar and Joel Stone, who are acting individually and as successors to Big Blue Trading LLC, in addition to Michael Hoban and William Johnson.

According to their complaint, the plaintiffs allege they traded as designated primary market-makers at the Chicago options exchange as joint venture partners with Stafford Jr. and businesses he controlled since about 1999.

Their complaint alleges that in early 2001, Stafford Jr. and his son, Stafford III, were privately negotiating to sell the joint ventures to TD as well as proprietary computer software and related technology owned by the Staffords.

The plaintiffs claim Stafford Jr. eventually informed them about the TD negotiations and asked for their joint consent for him to act as their agent in negotiating the sale of their interests in the joint ventures.

As a result, the plaintiffs allege they sold their interests in the joint ventures to TD for an up-front payment totalling $8.45 million.

They are seeking damages that include the recovery of losses in connection with the sale, back-end payments, lost bonuses, legal fees and related costs.

The complaint seeks damages ranging between $25 million to $40 million but there also remains the possibility of unspecified punitive damages.

The complaint also alleges that several plaintiffs were fired shortly after complaining to TD Options LLC about how the business was being managed.

A status hearing has been set for May 11.