Analyst Fired Over Trump Remarks Files Suit
Jul. 11, 1990
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ A securities analyst fired for making negative remarks about Donald Trump's new casino sued the real estate tycoon in federal court Tuesday, claiming Trump made defamatory comments about him.
Marvin B. Roffman, formerly a vice president with the Philadelphia brokerage firm Janney Montomery Scott Inc., is seeking more than $2 million in punitive and compensatary damages.
Roffman, 50, was fired March 23, three days after a negative critique in The Wall Street Journal about Trump's Taj Mahal Casino Resort in Atlantic City, N.J. His case has raised questions about the independence of securities analysts, who frequently comment about companies and business developments.
Roffman told the Journal that Trump's casino would flourish immediately after it opened in April, but ''once the cold winds blow from October to February, it won't make it. The market just isn't there.''
According to the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, Trump sent a letter to Janney Montgomery President Norman T. Wilde that said, ''For a long while I have thought of Mr. Roffman as an unguided missile.''
The lawsuit contends Trump's letter ''contained false and defamatory material'' because Roffman's comments ''were not outrageous; he is not a unguided missile, unprofessional ... and a bad analyst.''
Martin Sobol, Roffman's attorney, said his client believes he was fired from his job because ''he was honest.'' Roffman declined to comment.
Sobol said Roffman also would file a wrongful discharge claim against Janney Montgomery with the New York Stock Exchange seeking arbitration.
John Barry, a Trump spokesman, said the lawsuit ''has absolutely no basis'' and that Trump was free to express himself.
''If Mr. Roffman thought the statements were defamatory, why isn't he suing the publications in which they appear?'' Barry said.
The lawsuit quotes publications that reported Trump's comments about Roffman as evidence of defamation.
In the April 2 edition of Barron's, Trump said of Roffman: ''He's a very unprofessional guy, a hair trigger.'' In the May 7 edition of Fortune, Trump is quoted as saying: ''They got rid of a bad analyst, a man with little talent,'' the lawsuit said.
Trump threatened to sue Janney Montgomery unless Roffman publicly retracted the comments or the firm fired the 16-year veteran securities analyst. Roffman initially signed a letter of apology, but withdrew it in a second letter and then was fired.
Janney Montgomery contended Roffman was dismissed because he violated company policy by issuing statements to the press that had not been cleared or disseminated to the firm's clients.
Wilde said in a statement that Roffman also disobeyed a supervisor's orders by sending the second letter to Trump retracting his apology.
''In dismissing Mr. Roffman, we took measures to uphold industry standards concerning the professional integrity of security analysts,'' the statement said.
Janney Montgomery is a wholly owned subsidiary of Penn Mutual Life Insurance Co. The firm has 1,050 employees and 40 offices.
Roffman's turned him into a highly sought subject for interviews, especially after it was disclosed in recent weeks that Trump faced a cash crunch.
Trump made a last-minute deal with bankers June 26 that allowed him to meet the $43 million payment to holders of high-yield junk bonds backing another casino, the Trump Castle.