U.S. District Court Judge Margaret M. Morrow dismissed Dwight Freeney’s $20 million lawsuit against the Bank of America Friday ruling that the former San Diego Chargers’ lawyers failed to link the bank to the Merrill Lynch employees who allegedly defrauded the 13-year NFL veteran.
The case isn’t over by longshot, with the judge giving Freeney’s lawyers 20 days to refile an amended complaint with the California court. Freeney’s lawyer, Jeffrey B. Isaacs, is confident that his team will be able to address the court’s concerns.
“The problem here is created by the Byzantine structure of Bank of America and in particular its global wealth and investment management division,” Isaacs said. “You have this very confusing corporate structure, which Bank of America tries to hide behind to avoid liability.”
In 2012, a former associate at Merrill Lynch, Eva Weinburg and a close business associate were arrested for fraudulently wiring $2.2 million from Freeney’s account. Weinburg wasn’t registered as a financial advisor at the time, nor were there records to say she even worked in the industry.
However, the bank defended itself, saying the employees were dealt with and not a part of the company at the time.
"The primary wrongdoer [Michael Stern who is serving 13 years] never worked for the bank or any of its affiliates," explained BofA, "and the other person committed her criminal conduct after she left Merrill Lynch in 2010."
However, Freeney’s legal team see it otherwise.
“In 2010, Dwight Freeney authorized Bank of America to manage his assets, including his NFL salary,” said Isaacs, in a statement. “Two years later, Dwight had lost more than $20 million because of BofA's fraud scheme.”
Expect more legal fireworks to come.