They requested compensatory damages in excess of $2 million plus the income that would have been generated “if the money had been properly invested,” according to the award statement. They also sought $6 million in punitive damages.

The arbitrators denied the punitive damages request and recovery of legal fees.

The Pagáns’ attorney, Lloyd Schwed of Schwed Kahle & Kress of South Florida, said he was not surprised that an award for punitive damages was denied because Finra arbitrators only award such damages in 5% of cases.

“The Pagáns are thrilled with the award because it is the largest award rendered against Merrill Lynch in connection with the Puerto Rico bond debacle and the arbitration reimburses virtually all of their losses,” Schwed said. “The Pagáns grew up in public housing in a very poor area of San Juan and attended high school, so they placed all their trust in Merrill Lynch and their financial advisor, so this award has restored their trust in the system,” he added.

According to his Finra BrokerCheck profile, Gierbolini worked at UBS for 12 years before moving to Merrill Lynch in 2012. He has been the subject of 24 arbitration claims alleging that he recommended unsuitably high concentrations of Puerto Rico municipal bonds and closed-end funds at UBS and Merrill Lynch, the complaint said. His BrokerCheck profile showed that six cases are still pending.

He continues to work at Merrill. He could not be reached for comment.

Merrill Lynch issued a brief statement saying it was “disappointed with the panel’s decision.”

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