Practice Areas

Michael J. Betts has over forty years of experience handling a wide variety of securities and investment-related cases, as well as various other commercial litigation matters and business disputes.  Mr. Betts has represented business and individuals in numerous cases brought in various federal courts, including the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania (the federal district court located in Pittsburgh), and various Pennsylvania state courts, including the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County (the state trial court located in Pittsburgh).  Mr. Betts also has handled numerous cases presented to arbitration panels, including securities industry arbitrations administered by FINRA Dispute Resolution and commercial arbitrations administered by the American Arbitration Association.

Mr. Betts has successfully handled numerous securities and investment-related lawsuits and arbitration and has recovered more than $10 million for his clients.  These claims have arisen from a wide range of conduct on the part of brokerage firms and their registered representatives, including fraudulent misrepresentations, failures to invest in suitable investments, unauthorized trading, churning (excessive trading), improper options trading, insurance and annuity fraud, and failures to supervise.  The legal claims that Mr. Betts has asserted on behalf of his clients range from violations of the federal and state securities laws, violations of other statutes such as the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, and various common law claims such as fraud, negligence and breach of contract.

A portion of Mr. Betts’s securities law practice relates to representation of securities professionals who are the subject of investigations or enforcement proceedings by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) or state securities regulators.  Mr. Betts also represents brokers and other registered representatives in employment-related disputes, such as cases arising wrongful termination, defamatory statements made on Form U4s and U5s and claims brought by firms for repayment of promissory notes.  FINRA regards claims that arise from the employment of brokers and registered representatives as “industry disputes” that are subject to arbitration under FINRA’s Code of Arbitration for Industry Disputes.  Finally, with regard to his representation of securities professionals, Mr. Betts represents brokers and registered representatives in cases seeking expungement of information reported on the professional’s Form U4 or U5 and available to the public through FINRA’s Central Registration Depository (CRD) program and its BrokerCheck service.

Mr. Betts’s commercial litigation practice includes substantial experience with the following types of matters, among others: commercial litigation and business disputes, including claims under the Uniform Commercial Code, banking litigation, trade secret misappropriation, professional negligence, e.g., attorney and accountant malpractice cases, whistleblower and “qui tam” cases, shareholder and corporate governance disputes, and franchise litigation.

Mr. Betts devotes a significant portion of his practice to alternative dispute resolution and is an experienced ADR neutral.  Mr. Betts is available to assist in various forms of ADR, including mediations, arbitrations, early neutral evaluations and single-party settlement analysis.  Mr. Betts is on the roster of approved ADR neutrals for the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania and he also is an approved e-Discovery Special Master for the Court.  Mr. Betts also is on the approved roster of arbitrators for FINRA and the American Arbitration Association.

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