Horace Grant scores federal court win


An U.S. appeals court has upheld a $1.45 million arbitration award in favor of retired NBA player Horace Grant, who sought reimbursement for losses from risky bond funds that were marketed as safe, Reuters reported.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, according to an unpublished decision, rejected claims by Grant’s former brokerage, Morgan Keegan, that arbitrators in the case might have been biased, prejudged the outcome or exceeded their power.

“I was hoping and praying that this day would come,” Grant said. “I’ve always believed in the system, and this is just a step beyond approval for a good legal system.”

For Grant, the win is the end of four years trying to collect on losses stemming from the funds.

The former Chicago Bulls forward filed a claim against Morgan Keegan over his losses in 2008. A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitration panel sided with Grant and awarded him $1.46 million in 2009 – $1.45 million in compensatory damages and $10,000 for costs.

Morgan Keegan quickly went to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to try to have Grant’s award thrown out. The brokerage lost and appealed that decision, leading to a hearing on October 11 before the federal appeals judges.

Arbitration decisions are typically binding, but courts can overturn them in certain cases, such as arbitrator bias.

Grant, 47, played in the NBA for 17 years and won three titles with Chicago Bulls teams featuring Michael Jordan and one with the Los Angeles Lakers.

He bought most of the troubled funds through his Morgan Keegan brokerage account in 2004. At the time, the brokerage owned the sports agency that represented Grant.

Morgan Keegan now also owes the ex-basketball star about $462,000 in interest on the unpaid arbitration award, according to his lawyer, Andrew Stoltmann, in Chicago. “We’re pleased that the 9th circuit saw Morgan Keegan’s frivolous attempt to delay payment to Horace Grant,” said Stoltmann. “This has been a long odyssey.”

The Ninth Circuit appeals panel also issued a second opinion on Thursday allowing another arbitration that Grant filed against Morgan Keegan in 2010 to proceed.

In that case, Grant is seeking $3 million in compensation for an NBA pension he said he had to cash in prematurely while he fought to get the original award Morgan Keegan was supposed to pay him. Morgan Keegan had tried to persuade the courts that Grant’s second case should be heard in court and not by arbitrators.

Grant spent 17 years in the NBA, playing for Chicago Bulls, Orlando Magic, Seattle Supersonics and Los Angeles Lakers.

In his 1165 games (1037 started) in the league, Grant averaged 11.2 ppg, 8.1 rpg and 1.0 bpg.

Grant is also 4-time NBA Champion, three times with the Chicago Bulls (1991-1993), and once with the LA Lakers (2001).

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