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Devorah v. Royal Bank of Canada

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

July 16, 2015

CARRIE DEVORAH, Plaintiff,
v.
ROYAL BANK OF CANADA, et al., Defendants

CARRIE DEVORAH, CARRIE DEVORAH IRA; CARRIE DEVORAH LIVING TRUST; CARRIE DEVORAH IAAS, Plaintiff, Pro se, Arlington, VA.

For ROYAL BANK OF CANADA AND ITS SUBSIDIARIES AND ALIASES OPERATING UNDER THE MASTER BRAND NAME RBC INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO RBC PRIVATE COUNSEL (USA) INC., RBC WEALTH MANAGEMENT THE ALIAS OF RBC, PRIVATE COUNSEL (USA) INC., RBC CAPITAL MARKETS LLC, DAVID MCKAY, JOHN TAFT, SCOTT SANGERMAN, SCOTT A SANGERMAN TR TRUST, KENNETH SULLIVAN, JOHN POKLADOWSKI, JASON WISE, CAROLYN GUY, Defendants: Timothy Carrington Bass, LEAD ATTORNEY, GREENBERG TRAURIG LLP, Washington, DC.

Page 36

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

CHRISTOPHER R. COOPER, United States District Judge.

Pro se plaintiff Carrie Devorah has brought suit against her former investment advisor and associated defendants alleging various misdeeds related to her investment accounts. The defendants have moved to dismiss Devorah's complaint, contending that the Court lacks personal jurisdiction over several of them, that Devorah waived her claims by entering into a settlement agreement in a prior arbitration, and that her claims are otherwise

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meritless. The Court agrees with the defendants and will dismiss Devorah's complaint.

I. Background

Carrie Devorah held investment accounts with RBC Wealth Management--a subsidiary of the Royal Bank of Canada--from 2002 to 2009. Compl. at 8. Devorah's relationship with RBC and her financial consultant, Scott Sangerman, soured after the value of her investment accounts plummeted during the 2008 financial crisis. Mot. to Dismiss Ex. A. In 2010 she initiated, through counsel, an arbitration with the Financial Industries Regulatory Authority (" FINRA" ), alleging that Sangerman had refused to execute sell orders that she had placed at various times in the latter half of 2008. Id. That same year, Devorah settled her claims in an agreement that released Sangerman, RBC, and its affiliates and employees from all claims " known and unknown" related to her accounts. Id. Ex. B.

After entering into the settlement agreement, Devorah contacted RBC through one of its in-house lawyers, Carolyn Guy, to request records related to her former accounts, which Guy provided via an encrypted CD in January 2012. Compl. Ex. 5. According to Devorah, the approximately 800 records she received revealed improper and criminal acts by the defendants. Compl. ¶ 41. While the exact improprieties are unclear, Devorah generally alleges that: (1) Sangerman continued to serve as her investment advisor after she moved to the District of Columbia from London in 2003, although he was not licensed as a broker in D.C.; (2) the defendants initiated a FINRA arbitration matter a few months before she filed her FINRA complaint in an effort to control the course of the litigation; (3) the defendants defamed her by sending " humiliating" emails and providing her with false information; (4) her accounts were " falsified" because RBC mistakenly used an incorrect social security number when establishing them in 2002; (5) the defendants failed to provide her with requested records or respond to questions; and (6) a former RBC IT employee, Bryan Gasche, " digitally trespassed" in her account information because his name is listed as the author of PDFs contained in the CD she received. Compl. ¶ ¶ 9-10, 13-14, 18-24, 34.

Devorah's most extensive allegations surround an account statement that appears to have been erroneously included in the collection of records provided by Mr. Guy. Devorah's financial statements for the latter half of 2007, which were included in the CD, list an individual retirement account in her name with an account number ending in 0636, naming Sangerman as her financial advisor and reflecting a balance of approximately $260,000. Compl. Ex. 21. Along with a statement for each month for that account, all reflecting identical information, is a single additional statement for October 2007 listing a newly-created IRA with an account number ending in 0635, managed by another advisor, Jason Wise, containing no information related to Devorah and reflecting a balance of approximately $430,000. Id. Devorah does not claim that she herself created a new account or deposited this substantial sum to her accounts with RBC at that time. She also does not claim that anyone at RBC transferred this money out of any of Devorah's other investment accounts. Rather, she alleges that the defendants " brought $430,730 into [Devorah's] 'new account'" and then failed to alert her to the existence of this money, thereby stealing it from her. Compl. ¶ 48.

Devorah filed suit in this Court against RBC Wealth Management, its parent companies,

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Sangerman, Wise, Guy, and various other RBC employees. Her claims include respondeat superior liability, breach of fiduciary duty, conspiracy, identity theft and invasion of privacy, spoliation, defamation, breach of contract, and fraud. She demands damages in excess of $36,000,000. The defendants have moved to dismiss Devorah's complaint, contending that the Court lacks personal jurisdiction over several of the defendants; that Devorah has waived her right to bring these claims by entering into the settlement ...


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