According to the docket, in February 1998, several Stipulations of dismissal were filed by the plaintiffs. On February 29, 1998, U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Kovachevich issued the Order granting the Stipulations of dismissal and the action, including the third party complaint, was dismissed with prejudice. The case is closed.
In a press release dated September 22, 1997, on September 22, 1997, in the first such opinion by a federal court in a case challenging bank brokerage sales practices, Chief Judge Elizabeth A. Kovachevich of the U.S. District Court of the Middle District of Florida denied plaintiffs’ request for class certification. Agreeing with the arguments made for the defense by Reed Smith, the Court ruled that individual issues of fact predominated over any common issues and that a class action would not provide a superior method for the fair and efficient adjudication of the case. Fischler, et al. vs. AmSouth Bancorporation, et al., Case No. 96-1567 (M.D. Fla. September 22, 1997). After hearing oral argument and carefully reviewing the evidentiary record submitted by defendants, the Court characterized as "overwhelming" issues concerning the nature of any alleged misrepresentation, whether any individual investor relied upon any misrepresentation, the individualized nature of any proof concerning damages and the factual circumstances surrounding the statute of limitations defense. Indeed, the Court held that any alleged evidence of a "common scheme" was "dwarfed by other evidence presented in the case," including the testimony and affidavits of defendants’ witnesses, as well as the plaintiffs’ admissions in related litigation that they received prospectuses and other written disclosures concerning their investments.
The original suit accuses AmSouth of tricking Belleair Bluffs resident Matthew Fischler into buying a form of life insurance called an annuity contract. AmSouth spokesman Jim Underwood said he couldn't comment on the suit because the bank's lawyers had just received the suit and needed time to review it. In the suit filed Monday in Tampa, Fischler says AmSouth misled him about charges associated with a $50,000 annuity he bought in April 1994. During the sale, Fischler asked if he would have to pay a penalty if he withdrew his money early and, if so, whether it would consume only his interest or part of his principal, too, the suit says. An AmSouth broker told him he would lose only the interest, the
suit says. But a year later, Fischler withdrew his money and learned that, as part of a surrender charge, he had lost $2,679 of his principal. By its actions, the bank committed fraud and violated federal and state securities laws, the suit says.