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Published: 7/9/2013 - Updated: 9 months ago

10 former investors file fresh complaint against firm involved with failed Maumee auto parts plant

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

Attorneys for 10 former employee-investors of the failed Maumee Authority Stamping filed a complaint Monday with the Federal Industry Regulatory Authority Inc., seeking damages against a financial investment firm involved in the failed 2009 attempt to restart the former auto parts plant in Maumee.

Alan Rosca, a Cleveland attorney with Fishman Haygood Phelps Walmsley Willis & Swanson, said that under rules set by FINRA — which is a private, nongovernmental regulatory agency overseeing the New York Stock Exchange — the complaint will be handled through a binding-arbitration process pitting the former employees against the investment firm LPL Financial of Boston.

Mr. Rosca said that during the process of setting up Maumee Authority Stamping, officials with LPL Financial allegedly were promoting the program by which employees invested at least $16,000 each of their own money with the promise of restarting the company and possibly getting a job.

The attorney said LPL officials should have served only “as intermediaries for the employee-investors and Maumee Authority Stamping.” The defunct company has no connection to the current company, Maumee Assembly & Stamping, currently occupying the former Ford Motor parts plant at 920 Illinois Ave. in Maumee.

Mr. Rosca said he and another attorney, Joe Peiffer of New Orleans, will discuss the case with the former employees at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Courtyard Toledo Maumee-​Arrowhead on West Dussel Drive.

Employees who are not yet part of the case are welcome to attend, Mr. Rosca added, but how many additional former employees remain in the Toledo area is uncertain. “A lot of these people are not around and have moved on. This was four years ago,” he said.

Under the direction of Keith Obey, a businessman who later filed bankruptcy in 2012, Maumee Authority Stamping attempted to revive the closed parts plant and turn it into an auto parts factory partially owned by employee investors.

Approximately 43 employees paid $16,000 each to invest in the company and, hopefully, get a full-time job when the company succeeded.

The company tried to get auto-related work for eight months with little success. The operation eventually was evicted in May, 2009, a month after it landed a small contract with Ford to produce catalytic converters.

The attorney said it will take FINRA a couple of weeks to process the complaint, then allot more time in order to choose an acceptable arbitration panel and allow both parties to participate in the evidence discovery process. It could take a year to 18 months before an arbitration hearing takes place, Mr. Rosca said.

Contact Jon Chavez at: jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.



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