Leaning heavily on arbitration clauses it signs with clients, a local investment firm says it should be cut loose as a defendant in a lawsuit filed against one of its former partners who is accused by a Richmond widow of pillaging her family’s nest egg.
Thompson Davis & Co. last week filed its response to a Richmond Circuit Court case that claims the firm took a “head in the sand approach” related to the alleged actions of Victor M. Dandridge III, who was a partner at the firm until last year and has admitted to stealing from and defrauding former client Lynne Kinder.
The firm cites several agreements signed by Kinder while some of her assets were managed by the firm during Dandridge’s four-year tenure. Each of those agreements contained arbitration provisions calling for any dispute between the parties related to investments be handled out of court. Kinder, who filed the suit in November seeking $6 million in damages, claims Thompson Davis is “vicariously liable” for some of Dandridge’s actions.
The firm claims its end of the dispute should be argued in arbitration, not Richmond Circuit Court.
If a judge agrees, an arbitrator could be appointed to play the role of the judge and jury and mind the ground rules for evidence, witnesses and the like. Arbitrators are typically former attorneys or judges.
The arbitration argument was also made on behalf of Thompson Davis founder and CEO Bill Davis and Kevin Rutherford and Walter Young, the firm’s current and former compliance officers, who are also named as defendants in the lawsuit.
Thompson Davis is represented by Williams Mullen attorney Bill Bayliss. He declined to comment beyond the pleadings.
Also arguing for dismissal is Dandridge’s wife, Ann Claiborne Dandridge, who Kinder accuses of having a hand in the theft and fraud, and of benefitting from the alleged ill-gotten funds.
Mrs. Dandridge filed several responses, including a lengthy document in which she repeatedly denied knowledge and involvement in the allegations against her and her husband. She asks to be dismissed from the case and to be awarded reimbursement for her legal costs.
The case has also created at least a legal rift between the Dandridges, as Mrs. Dandridge filed a so-called cross-claim against her husband. A cross-claim is a sort-of preemptive lawsuit filed by one plaintiff against another – in this case with Mrs. Dandridge arguing she should be allowed to collect damages from her husband to pay damages to Kinder should they both be found liable in the lawsuit.
In his lengthy response to the lawsuit filed earlier this month, Dandridge, currently a Charlottesville resident, repeatedly attempted to shoulder much of the blame and defect any liability away from Thompson Davis, his wife and others.
His Jan. 9 response stated: “(Dandridge) is solely responsible and to blame for his despicable conduct and the other defendants’ only fault would have been to have believed him.”