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Case 1:18-cv-00327

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Filed 07/20/18

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA SOUTHERN DIVISION

CLIFFORD D. MARKS,

)

an individual,

)

)

Plaintiff,

)

)

v.

)

Civil Action No. :

)

NEW YORK LIFE INSURANCE

)

COMPANY, a corporation; and

)

JURY TRIAL DEMANDED

ALFRED FREDDIE CORINA,

)

an individual,

)

)

Defendants.

)

COMPLAINT

COMES NOW the Plaintiff, Clifford D. Marks, by and through his

attorneys of record, and for his Complaint against Defendants, New York Life

Insurance Company and Alfred Freddie Corina, states as follows:

NATURE OF THE CASE

This is a lawsuit brought by the Plaintiff, Clifford D. Marks, who has been

affected by the discrimination alleged in the claims set forth below, seeking

permanent relief from unlawful discriminatory practices involving the failure to

remedy systemic employment discrimination on the basis of race.

The practices

committed by Defendant New York Life Insurance Company violate the Civil

1

Rights

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Act of 1866,

as

amended, 42 U.S.C. § 1981

Page 2 of 35

(Ҥ 1981").

The acts

committed by Defendant Alfred Freddie Corina violate Alabama common law.

OVERVIEW

Plaintiff was an established, highly awarded, top producer in Defendant New

York Life's Mobile office, and in the top 1% of New York Life Insurance

Company’s agents in the United States. Defendant New York Life has exhibited a

consistent pattern and practice of discrimination against top-producing African-

American agents. Defendant New York Life's office has unlawfully terminated or

forced previous African-American agents to resign. In comparison to other agents

who were not African-American, said Defendant provided no training, sales leads,

or referrals to its African-American agents.

As a means of discrimination, Plaintiff believes Defendant New York Life

targeted him with excessive chargebacks, customer service errors, termination and

ultimately fraudulently-induced customer complaints.

Through these means,

Defendant New York Life undermined and discredited Plaintiff in order to take his

clients and eliminate him as a competitor.

Plaintiff believes that in many cases,

Defendant New York Life used these fraudulently-induced complaints to convince

Plaintiff's clients to purchase new policies that generated a new commission for

Defendant company but left the policyholders worse off.

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At the time of Plaintiff's termination, there were no other established

African-American agents in New York Life's Mobile office. Many of the alleged

customer complaints have been recanted and appear to have been fraudulently

manufactured and based on misrepresentations made by Defendant New York Life.

New York Life's unlawful discrimination resulted in Plaintiff's inability to conduct

business or engage in contracts in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981.

Defendant

Corina's malicious and false words defamed Plaintiff under Alabama law.

JURISDICTION AND VENUE

1. This Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this cause of action

pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1343, and 1367.

This Court has jurisdiction over

Plaintiff's pendant state law claim under 28 U.S.C. § 1367.

2. The Defendant company is located and/or doing business within this

judicial district and division. The Defendant individual resides in this judicial

district and division. This action is brought within the judicial district wherein the

unlawful employment practices were committed, Mobile, Alabama, making venue

proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b).

PARTIES

3. Plaintiff, Clifford D. Marks (“Plaintiff” or “Marks”), is an adult

African-American male resident domiciled in the state of Alabama, and this

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judicial district and division.

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Plaintiff was an employee of Defendant New York

Life at all relevant times within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 1981.

4. Defendant

New

York

Life

Insurance

Company

(hereinafter

“Defendant” or “NYL”) is a Delaware corporation, which is located and doing

business within this judicial district and division, specifically in Mobile, Alabama.

Founded in 1845, NYL is the third largest life insurance company in the United

States and one of the largest life insurers in the world. Defendant New York Life

was the employer of Plaintiff at all times relevant herein within the meaning of 42

U.S.C. § 1981.

5. Defendant Alfred Freddie Corina is a resident of this judicial district

and division and at all times material herein was employed by Defendant New

York Life.

STATEMENT OF FACTS

6. Plaintiff is a forty-one year-old African-American male who worked

for Defendant New York Life, one of the largest life insurers in the world.

7.

Plaintiff was hired by Defendant NYL around 2003, to sell insurance

policies

and

other

financial

services

products.

Plaintiff

was

employed

by

Defendant NYL as an insurance agent and financial service professional for

approximately fourteen years.

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8. Plaintiff passed the Investment Company Products/Variable Contracts

Examination ("Series 6") on May 20, 2011, obtaining a license to sell "packaged"

investment products, including variable life insurance policies, variable annuities,

mutual funds and unit investment trusts. Plaintiff then passed the Uniform

Securities Agent State Law Examination ("Series 63") on May 26, 2011. Plaintiff

also obtained the Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow (LUTCF) designation.

9. Over Plaintiff's decade and a half working for Defendant New York

Life, he was consistently a top producer. Plaintiff was ranked among the top 1% of

NYL's entire sales staff for the United States.

10. NYL awarded Plaintiff with substantial awards and accolades for his

sales accomplishments, in almost every year he worked there.

From the start,

Plaintiff was an exceptional agent and a top performer.

In

his first year as an

agent, NYL awarded him Rookie of the Year 2003, and Life Case Rate Leader

2003. Plaintiff continued to be rewarded with the Life Case Rate Leader award in

2004, 2005, 2006, and 2010.

11. Plaintiff was awarded the Life Leader award in 2011, 2012, 2013, and

2014.

Plaintiff received the "Centurion" award in 2005 and 2006.

He was

awarded New Org. Agent of the Year and Life Leader of the Year in 2006.

Plaintiff was given the Annuity Champion award in 2011 and 2012, as well

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Annuity Leader in 2012. Plaintiff won the Long Term Care Leader award in 2006,

2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013.

He was named Established Agent of the Month

Leader in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.

12. NAIFA

(the

National

Association

of

Insurance

and

Financial

Advisors) awarded Plaintiff its National Sales Achievement Award in 2004, 2005,

and 2007. NAIFA also awarded Plaintiff the National Quality Award in 2004 and

2007. He was named to NYL's Executive Council in 2005, 2006, 2009, and 2010.

NYL then named Plaintiff to its Chairman's Council in 2012, 2013, and 2014.

Plaintiff received the Impact Award in 2013. NYL named Plaintiff Advisor of the

Year in 2012, 2013, and 2014.

13. Plaintiff

was

a

member

of

the

Million

Dollar

Round

Table

organization from 2011 to 2015, an exclusive association open only to experienced

financial professionals who consistently earned in the top percentage of the

industry. He sat on the esteemed "Court of the Table" for the organization in 2012,

2013, and 2014.

14. While working at NYL, Plaintiff was consistently ranked among the

very top producers in the nation.

Plaintiff was ranked among the top 1% of NYL's

entire sales staff for the United States. Specifically, he was ranked sixty-third out

of 40,000 agents who worked for NYL.

6

Plaintiff earned an annual income of

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approximately $600,000 per year, and he generated $2 million to $3 million in

premium income per year.

15. Plaintiff was a highly sought-after speaker at NYL events, speaking

to, and motivating, other sales representatives of the company.

16. New York Life has a history of discriminatory practices.

There are

currently at least three lawsuits or investigations pending across the United States

which

involve

African-American

top

discrimination based on race.

performing

NYL

agents

who

allege

17. Plaintiff

attended

many

national

award

ceremonies

for

his

achievements.

Most of these awards were given at NYL's annual national galas.

Plaintiff also attended many training events. Plaintiff was surprised to find out at a

NYL Coaching series (a NYL training event that agents have to pay to attend) that

he was not permitted to choose his seat for meals and functions at this event, as

there was assigned seating in place.

This assigned seating placed Plaintiff and

other African-American top producers at a segregated table for NYL-sponsored

meals and functions.

Other African-American agents who were placed at such

tables were Ketler Bosse of Boston, Massachusetts, Eric Nation of Birmingham,

Alabama,

Kirk

Blackman

Montgomery, Alabama.

of

Washington,

7

D.C.,

and

Antonio

Stankley

of

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18. At least three other successful Experienced African-American agents

who worked for Defendant NYL (and perhaps more) were ultimately forced to

resign, leaving NYL with their clients:

Nation.

Ketler Bossie, Eszylife Taylor, and Eric

19. NYL's

Mobile

office

has

had

organizational

problems

and

has

consistently underperformed other NYL offices around the country.

In the last

three years Plaintiff worked at NYL, there have been at least five different

Managing Partners in the office: Kelly Dowell, who was terminated then re-hired;

David Hughes, who was transferred; Russell Atkinson, who was terminated;

Thomas Bello, who was terminated; and, currently, Dennis Farrar.

20. Plaintiff received little to no support from the Managing Partners of

the Mobile branch of NYL. Plaintiff believes that unlike other agents who were not

African-American, he did not receive sales leads or referrals from any of the

managing partners. Plaintiff was repeatedly directed to spend more time assisting

less experienced and less successful agents, more so than non-African-American

agents.

21. Despite the inefficiencies in the office, Plaintiff still managed to thrive

in the top 1% of NYL's salespeople in the nation.

Plaintiff was the 63rd highest

ranked producer for NYL out of 40,000 agents.

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22. The last Managing Partner to take over the Mobile office while

Plaintiff worked there was Dennis Farrar, a former partner of recruiting in NYL's

Tampa office.

23. At that time, across the country, Defendant New York Life was

engaged in a Double Conversion Credit Program which encouraged its agents to

convert the existing policies of their clients. It was nothing more than doubling the

insured's term cash value and crediting it toward a new life insurance product, if

that insured wanted to step it up a bit and pay more premiums.

If an insured had

paid $10,000 in term life insurance premiums and wanted to avoid increasing

premiums as the insured grew older, that $10,000 would become $20,000 toward a

whole life insurance policy. The premiums would increase, but the insured got an

additional $10,000 in cash value. Over time, the increased premiums would justify

the double credit conversion

24. Like the practices of other NYL offices, Farrar began to target

Plaintiff from the beginning, seeing an opportunity to profit at Plaintiff's detriment.

Defendant New York Life did not like the fact that he was African-American or

the fact that he had a white female as a Marketing Manager.

25. From a business perspective, established and prosperous agents, like

Marks, generate less income for a Managing Partner, particularly a new one. This

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is because the office shared less in the production income of the longer-term agents

than a newer agent.

Farrar could expect to earn 7% off an experienced agent's

sales, but upwards of 50% from a newer, less experienced agent.

Based on this

practice of Defendant New York Life, Farrar began a campaign to remove an

African-American top performer from the office to steal his clients.

Defendant

New York Life’s next step would be to further discredit Plaintiff through customer

service errors, and finally through regulatory complaints which would inhibit his

ability to engage in business and find other employment.

26. Defendant

New

York

Life

first

targeted

Plaintiff

using

internal

financial mechanisms that were used as weapons to discredit, undermine, and

impede his ability to do business. These initial devices include, but are not limited

to, excessive and duplicative chargebacks, and an abnormal amount of customer

service errors involving his clients.

Defendant New York Life would call

Plaintiff's clients without his knowledge to discredit and undermine Plaintiff. NYL

personnel solicited customer complaints against Plaintiff, which complaints were

obtained by fraud.

27. When a prospective policy holder whose initial premium payment is

included

with

his

policy

is

subsequently

denied

insurance,

any

advanced

commissions paid to the agent are demanded to be paid back to New York Life. In

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the insurance industry these are referred to as “chargebacks” or commission

reversals.

28.

Chargebacks are fair and justifiable in circumstances such as when the

potential policy holder ultimately is found to be uninsurable.

No policy is ever

issued, the amount of the chargeback is defensible, and the commission income

from such sales are "charged back" to the selling NYL agent.

29. At all times relevant to this lawsuit, across the country NYL was

engaged in a Double Conversion Credit Program, which encouraged its agents to

convert the existing policies of their clients.

30. While chargebacks can be justified under certain circumstances,

Defendant New York Life regularly charged back Plaintiff for improper amounts

and for commissions which were fairly earned. These chargebacks increased after

Farrar’s arrival and toward the end of Plaintiff’s time at NYL.

31. Through no fault of Plaintiff's, certain policies were denied by the

underwriting department due to health risks.

32. Plaintiff was charged back for several policies which were declined by

the underwriters:

$3,845 for Pamela Dismukes, $2,250 for James Powell, Jr.,

$4,155.12 for Kate Conner, and others.

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33. In the case of Joel House, whose application for a whole life policy

was denied, Plaintiff was unfairly charged back twice for the declined policy.

Plaintiff was charged $6,369.00 on May 5, 2015, and again for $6,369.00 on July

21, 2015.

34.

In the case of Dewarick Spencer, a professional basketball player who

was healthy and financially secure, Defendant New York Life denied the policy

because it deemed the policy as a hazard, and then charged back Plaintiff.

35. In certain circumstances, Plaintiff was charged back and was never

given a reason for the commission reversal.

This was the case with Pamela

Williams, a client of Plaintiff's who owned a company named Bayou Oaks, Inc.,

which had $560,000 in annual revenue.

36. Bayou Oaks purchased a simple, nonqualified plan that permitted the

company to offer its key employees bonus compensation, along with immediate

and long-term benefits for them, their families and their business.

Under the

program, Williams purchased a Variable Universal Life Policy (policy number

63820204) on September 24, 2014.

In addition, in May of 2015, the company

purchased a long-term care policy for Williams.

37. Bayou Oaks never failed to make a premium payment and was

current with all premium payments at the time of the chargebacks.

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38. For reasons unknown, in November of 2015, Plaintiff was charged

back a commission on the Bayou Oaks VUL policy in the amount of $8,845.63.

Farrar called Plaintiff to inform him of the chargeback.

39. Plaintiff attempted to obtain an explanation as to why he was charged

back for the policy, but was never given a plausible explanation.

told that it was paid in error.

He was simply

40. Plaintiff was again charged back an additional $6,489.73 on the same

Williams/Bayou Oaks VUL policy number 63820204, on November 20, 2015.

The only reason given was that it was an adjustment error.

41. Defendant

New

York

Life

never

revised

these

chargebacks

to

Plaintiff's account nor offered any real explanation as to why they were issued.

42. After Plaintiff’s departure from NYL, Williams began to encounter

multiple errors with her policy.

She also experienced harassment by New York

Life’s customer service.

surrendered her polices.

Ultimately, at New York Life’s direction, Williams

43. Plaintiff believes that Defendant New York Life told Pamela Williams

to surrender her policy, as opposed to taking a policy loan or withdrawal, because

Defendant New York Life had wrongfully charged back Plaintiff more than

$15,000 in commissions back in 2015 and wanted to cover it up. This harassment

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and cover up was the result of a discriminatory attitude prevalent within New York

Life’s office.

44. Pamala Dismukes was another victim of New York Life’s customer

service errors and harassment.

Dismukes received a letter from Defendant New

York Life on January 17, 2016 stating that she had paid NYL $3,130 in premiums

from January 1 to December 31, 2015.

Defendant New York Life then sent

Dismukes a letter stating that Plaintiff was no longer with NYL, and that her long

term care policy’s premium amount was $1,130.31 per month.

Dismukes’

premium payment was actually only $391.25 a month.

Dismukes, who grew

weary from all the errors, sent Defendant NYL a letter stating that she no longer

wanted to do business with NYL.

and phone calls.

She further complained about harassing letters

45. The unusual frequency and nature of the errors involving Plaintiff’s

clients could raise an inference that many of these errors were intentional.

46. Some of Plaintiff’s clients who were qualified for policies at the time

they were issued later experienced economic hardship and were unable to pay their

premiums.

Plaintiff bears no fault in the customers’ failed payments for these

policies, but he was still aggressively charged back for them. Plaintiff was charged

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back $33,539 on Arthur Barker, Jr.'s policy when a premium check bounced

because of Barker's deteriorating financial condition.

47. Plaintiff was charged back $577 for his client Shquana Washington,

$2,250 for Roland Cobbs, $720.56 for Catherine Perrymen, and $1,314 for Gail

Davenporte.

In all of these situations, the charge backs were incurred because of

changes in the financial circumstances of Plaintiff’s clients.

These insurance

policies were perfectly appropriate for them at the time they made the application.

Intervening events and unforeseen changes in their financial condition made the

continued payment of premiums financially impossible for the policyholders.

48. When Plaintiff's client Clarence Crear's father became ill, he was

unable to continue to afford his policy, and Plaintiff advised him to apply for a

refund. As a result, Plaintiff was charged back $ 8,938.56.

49. James Powell, Jr., who had been declined for a long term care policy

because of health reasons (for which Plaintiff was charged back), was later

approved for a whole life policy. In the meantime, Powell's mother was diagnosed

with dementia.

Defendant New York Life continued to harass him to secure the

desired signed policy receipt form.

NYL to leave him alone.

Powell expressed to Plaintiff that he wanted

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50. Plaintiff intervened and asked Defendant New York Life to stop

harassing Powell and not to contact him any further.

Plaintiff was charged back

$24,360.84 because the signed delivery receipt form had not been delivered.

In

December of 2016, however, the policy receipt was, in fact, delivered, but the

chargeback nonetheless remained in place.

51.

At an increasing rate, Plaintiff's clients became exasperated with

customer

service's

errors,

unexpected

debits

from

their

bank

accounts,

and

inaccurate lapse notices. Due to their frustration, several of Plaintiff’s clients just

decided to leave NYL. The number of Plaintiff's customers who received such

errors and harassment raises an inference that they were being targeted by

the customer service division with the specific intention to interfere with and

impede Plaintiff's ability to service his clients, deny him commissions, and

generate commissions for others.

52. Along with excessive unfair chargebacks and customer service errors

that seemed to target Plaintiff and his clients, Defendant NYL began to target

Plaintiff with a far more destructive scheme to discredit him and inhibit his ability

to do business.

Defendant New York Life, through its agents, managing partner

Farrar,

and

agent

Freddie

Corina,

began

to

encourage

and

fraudulently

manufacture complaints with various regulatory agencies, including the Financial

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Industry Regulatory Agency ("FINRA"), and at least three different state insurance

regulatory agencies.

Plaintiff suspects that many, if not all, of the complaints

against him were a product of this scheme.

53. Defendant New York Life claimed to have received a complaint letter

from Howard Dean, who was one of Plaintiff's clients.

The letter claimed that

Dean had signed blank documents for new policies at the instruction of Plaintiff,

that a loan was processed from the policy, and that the policy had a premium he

could not afford.

54. The Dean letter was not signed by hand and was not dated, but simply

had a name typed in the signature space.

There is a stamp on the document that

would indicate it was received on October 2, 2015.

Plaintiff questions the

authenticity of this document.

Plaintiff believes this may have been the first of

many manufactured complaint letters which all seem to allege signed "blank

documents."

Defendant New York Life used these “blank document” complaints

because disproving them is particularly difficult.

It does not appear New York

Life registered the Dean complaint with any of the proper authorities at the time.

The failure to report this is very suspicious, and indicates that the letter was

manufactured internally by New York Life.

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55. Notwithstanding the failure to timely report the Dean complaint,

Defendant New York Life used this matter as a pretext to stop making prepayment

of commissions due Plaintiff, which thereafter required that all steps in the sale of

any insurance be completed and documented before issuing any commission

payments to Plaintiff. By means of this device New York Life thereafter employed

this scheme to create many roadblocks between the sale of its products and the

payment of commissions to Plaintiff.

56. Regarding the “blank documents” which Dean allegedly referred to,

Kate Conner, Plaintiff's former assistant, has confirmed that she completed the

document in her own handwriting. She then gave it to Plaintiff, who in turn

delivered it to Mr. Dean for his signature.

When Mr. Dean signed the document,

Plaintiff did so as well. It was not "blank" when Dean signed it.

57. Plaintiff was called to meet with corporate compliance officers Jacob

L. Roberson and William Paul Horton on February 23, 2016 at the NYL

compliance offices in Alpharetta, Georgia.

58. Plaintiff drafted a memorandum of his version of events for the

compliance meeting. Plaintiff mentioned in the memorandum that it was odd that

Dean had gone through all the effort of contacting him to fill out the application,

then suddenly would not answer Plaintiff’s calls or speak to him, but was willing to

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take the time to call customer service and type out a very calculated complaint

letter.

Plaintiff was very suspicious of the Dean letter and the surrounding

circumstances.

59. Plaintiff met with Robertson and Horton on February 23, 2016.

During that meeting Plaintiff outlined the substance of his memorandum, answered

all questions, and explained his understanding of the facts surrounding his

meetings and discussions with Dean.

60. At the end of the meeting, both of NYL’s compliance officers,

Robertson and Horton, stated that Plaintiff had done nothing wrong, and that little

would come of Dean’s complaint.

Both Robertson and Horton told Plaintiff that

he should not be concerned about the Dean complaint.

61. On June 3, 2016, Managing Partner Farrar called Plaintiff into a

meeting. Farrar informed Plaintiff that he was being terminated and that it would

be best for him to resign.

Plaintiff later found out that this was a common tactic

used by NYL, called using the "black ball" to force top producers to retire.

62. Defendant New York Life stated in its disclosure to FINRA that it

terminated Plaintiff:

"Voluntary Resignation made 6/3/2016, company refused to

process resignation and issued a termination 6/7/16."

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63. In addition, in an internal email dated Tuesday, June 7, 2016, Plaintiff

was listed as "terminated for cumulative quality of business and suitability

concerns." Nothing was mentioned about the Dean Letter.

64. In

New

York

Life’s

disclosure

to

FINRA

regarding

Plaintiff's

termination, it states the same as above but mentioned that the review was initiated

after receipt of a customer complaint, which may be the first time the Dean issue

was brought up again, almost nine months later.

65.

This

termination

or

forced

resignation

was

motivated

by

race.

Plaintiff experienced workplace abuse during his time working at NYL.

At the

time of his termination or forced resignation there were no other African-American

agents in New York Life’s Mobile office.

66. Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with the United States Equal

Employment Opportunity Commission, which was dismissed on June 20, 2017

because of his alleged status as an independent contractor.

67. Defendant New York Life submitted its first Preliminary Investigation

Request to FINRA regarding the Dean letter on September 7, 2016.

This was

almost a full year after New York Life allegedly received the letter. The delay in

processing Mr. Dean’s undated and unsigned complaint, allegedly made October 2,

2015, is suspicious. Defendant New York Life waited until June or September of

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2016 to make any report to FINRA.

This lapse suggests that the complaint was

manufactured or even fake.

The Dean Letter was used as a mechanism to deny

Plaintiff commission income and was later used as pretext for termination, and

then used to eliminate Plaintiff as a competitor in the Mobile, Alabama area. 1

If

the complaint letter was real, it would suggest that by not reporting the matter there

was regulatory malfeasance by NYL.

68. After Plaintiff's termination or forced resignation, Defendant New

York Life sent out a letter to Plaintiff's clients stating that he was no longer

associated with NYL.

The letter instructed the clients to access Plaintiff’s

information listed by FINRA on its BrokerCheck website.

69. The BrokerCheck website reflects NYL’s disclosure, which states that

Plaintiff "resigned after a review of his business practices raised a number of

concerns regarding the quality of his business, including unsuitable transactions.”

New York Life’s statement that Plaintiff resigned is inconsistent with New York

Life’s disclosure and email which both state that NYL terminated him.

1 Dean was never given the option to free look his policy and receive a full refund of the one full drafted premium from his account with the conversion cash that NYL gave as incentive to Dean. Since Dean's policy was never delivered, he was, and is, entitled to a full premium refund under NYL policy rules and guidelines.

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70. The disclosure goes on to state that “the review was initiated after

receipt of a customer complaint, which alleged unauthorized loan and withdrawal

transactions relating to traditional life insurance policies.”

71. Finally, the disclosure refers to the chargebacks, stating “at the time of

his

resignation,

Mr.

Marks

had

an

outstanding

debt

to

the

company

of

approximately $95,000 due to commission reversals."

72. New York Life’s letter to Plaintiff’s clients also enclosed a summary

of policies and accounts that the client had with NYL. It also indicated that NYL

wanted to confirm that the accounts were accurate and whether there were

concerns about the sale, prior servicing, or status of the policies purchased from

Plaintiff.

73. After receiving that letter, Mr. Riji Dixon (one of Plaintiff's clients)

contacted the Mobile office to inquire into the matter and was put through directly

to Farrar. Farrar told Dixon that there had been complaints made against Plaintiff

by other customers. Dixon stated that he had no desire to get Plaintiff into trouble

and that he did not want him hurt in any way. Farrar assured Dixon that whatever

Dixon said would be treated as confidential and that his remarks would not be

treated as a complaint against Plaintiff.

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74. Farrar told Dixon that he could get a total refund from his NYL policy

in the amount of $46,000, and that Plaintiff would never find out.

Farrar told

Dixon that in order to receive this money, Dixon would have to say that he did

not understand what Plaintiff had told him regarding the policies' purchase,

and that he did not understand the products sold to him.

75. Dixon asked Farrar whether this phone conversation was the only

complaint against Plaintiff. Dixon was then told by Farrar and someone in NYL’s

Corporate Office, “No, Mr. Dixon, that is not true, there were others.” Farrar

further stated that there were “many complaints which had been made against Mr.

Marks."

76. Farrar also told Dixon that the IRS had filed liens against Mr. Marks’

income, assets and revenues.

Farrar continued, stating that one of the other

complaints made against Plaintiff was “…quite a bit larger than yours.”

77. Finally, the unidentified person in the corporate office told Dixon that

Plaintiff misrepresented the products that clients had bought and "that they may

have signed blank documents."

Contrary to what he had been told by New York

Life, Dixon's call was, in fact, treated as a complaint and filed as such with

regulatory agencies, including FINRA.

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78. When Dixon found out that he had been manipulated into making a

complaint, he was "shocked," and telephoned Farrar. Dixon told Farrar that he was

upset that he had been misled into making a complaint against Plaintiff, and

wanted to retract the verbal complaint.

79. Farrar instructed Dixon that the withdrawal would have to be made in

writing, which Dixon stated that he would do. Dixon then wrote a letter to Farrar

retracting his statement.

Despite having advance notice that Dixon would retract

any complaint against Plaintiff, Defendant New York Life proceeded to amend

Plaintiff’s FINRA disclosure document with this second complaint.

80. Farrar came to the lot where Plaintiff and his wife were building a

home.

Farrar told Dixon, "We are going to put Mr. Marks out of business and

bankrupt him.

I would be surprised if he ever finishes that house."

Dixon later

conveyed that this statement by Farrar scared him and made him fearful.

81. Defendant New York Life in essence bribed victimized clients of

Plaintiff by representing to the clients that the only way to get refunds or their

policies reinstated was for them to falsely claim that Plaintiff's actions were

contrary to the policy terms or deceptive or misleading.

82. Dixon has affirmatively recanted his remarks that were filed as a

complaint in a letter to Farrar and through a signed affidavit.

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83. Plaintiff's clients Dr. Walter K. Little and his wife, Carol Little, heard

that Plaintiff was fired by Defendant New York Life after he had "stolen millions

of dollars" from his clients.

Dr. Little called NYL and was directed to Freddie

Corina, an agent for New York Life, who confirmed the story that Mr. Marks had

"stolen millions of dollars" and asked them to come in for a meeting.

Plaintiff

believes Corina always had animosity toward him because former African-

American agent Tyson Lee had referred his clients to Plaintiff and not Corina.

84. At the meeting with the Littles, in early January of 2017, Corina held

himself out to be the office manager. During the meeting, Corina told the Littles,

“Mr. Marks’ license was in peril and was suspended and would be revoked.”

Corina also said that “Mr. Marks would almost certainly face jail time because of

his

unscrupulous

dealings.”

Corina

misrepresented

the

true

meaning

of

documents, withheld documents, omitted relevant facts, and ultimately misled the

Littles about the mismanagement of their fund in the meeting.

Yet again, the

clients, here the Littles, were left worse off after these misrepresentations and

omissions.

85. Mrs. Little later described Corina's representations to be “false and

misleading statements mixed with an unrealistic sense of urgency and doom to

persuade us to draft the letter and enter subsequent transactions.”

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86. After the meeting with Corina, a complaint letter was produced or

drafted, by Corina or another NYL employee, which Dr. Walter K. Little signed.

The letter stated, “My account was horribly mismanaged by Mr. Marks.”

The

letter also stated that “I just discovered that the blank forms I signed do not reflect

the intent I approved” and “[m]oreover, certain signatures were not signed or

approved by me and are suspect.”

87. Finally the letter states that “I never saw and was never given a copy

of an illustration describing premiums of $64,000.00 or $5,400.00 monthly debits

and these debits were definitely never ever approved and authorized by me.”

88. Corina recommended that the Littles accept the $46,000 refund money

offered by NYL regarding the VUL Policy Plaintiff had sold them during one of

NYL's double credit conversion campaigns.

89. Corina then recommended that the Littles use those proceeds to

repurchase a new whole life policy from him, which they did.

Because of this

scheme, the Littles never saw the $46,000 which had been promised, and Corina

sold them the exact same policy which they had purchased a year earlier while

Plaintiff was their agent.

The only difference was that the premium was

significantly higher, leaving the Littles worse off. Ultimately, Corina walked away

with a new commission estimated to be between $20,000 and $30,000, and

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Plaintiff was charged back twice for a total of $7,371.42 on the whole life policy

he had sold the Littles in March of 2015.

90. As the previous paragraphs establish, the Littles have since recanted

their remarks about Plaintiff and signed a letter laying out what is stated above.

91. Plaintiff asserts that an additional complaint made against him by the

Wrights was also solicited and manufactured by Corina on behalf of Farrar and

Defendant

New

York

Life.

Here,

Corina

and

an

unidentified

corporate

representative of NYL held a meeting with Drs. Bobby and Sharienne Wright.

92. At that meeting, the Wrights were told by the NYL representative that

they needed to take action and that if they did not, they would lose all of their

money.

After hearing statements by Defendant’s unidentified representative and

Corina, the Wrights signed a complaint against Plaintiff. Yet again, the document

appears to have been drafted by Defendant New York Life due to its manufactured

nature and the similar allegations, including that the client signed blank pieces of

paper yet again.

93. Like most of the clients who made complaints, the Wrights were in

financial trouble and needed money.

Defendant New York Life was offering

Plaintiff’s troubled clients a way to get cash in exchange for a complaint against

Plaintiff. Here, the Wrights owed a significant amount of money in back taxes to

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Dr. Sharienne Wright had spoken with Plaintiff numerous times in

person, on the phone and via text about the difficult financial situation the Wrights

were in because they had not paid taxes since 2011.

94. The Wrights’ complaint asserted that they had “lost $100,000s of

dollars" due to Plaintiff. The Wrights held a Variable Annuity Policy. Under NYL

procedure, policyholders are the only ones with the ability to withdraw funds from

this type of policy.

Agents do not have the ability to access these funds for a

withdrawal. One of the Wrights would have to at least verbally order a withdrawal

of funds.

95. Plaintiff later learned that three payments were made to the Wrights

out of their policy, the first in 2014 for $52,500, a second in 2014 for $30,000, and

a third in 2016 for $25,500. This would equal a total of $108,000, very close to the

"$100,00s of dollars" that were lost.

96. In the end it turned out that the Wrights themselves withdrew the

money and paid it to the IRS.

Plaintiff discussed the complaint with the Wrights

and showed them the actual signed documents. After learning the truth about their

accounts, the Wrights recanted the Corina-induced remarks.

97. Plaintiff held insurance policies through Defendant New York Life for

himself, his employees, and family members.

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Plaintiff paid the premiums out of

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his earnings account, under a “NYLA” plan he held with Defendant NYL. Under

that arrangement, Defendant New York Life would deduct the premiums from

Plaintiff’s earnings prior to paying Plaintiff for the policies he sold.

98. After Plaintiff's termination, in a letter dated June 27, 2016, NYL

notified Plaintiff that his daughter's policy had lapsed in February 2016, and that if

he wanted to reinstate the policy he would have to pay $3,475.24.

NYL claimed

that Plaintiff had not paid the premium payments for February, March, April, May

and June of 2016.

During that same period, Plaintiff claims that every premium

that was due had been paid from Plaintiff's ledger or NYLA Plan (Employee)

Account.

99. Plaintiff's daughter's policy had an APL (Automatic Premium Loan)

Option.

If the premiums are not paid, the APL option is triggered, and money is

automatically withdrawn from the policy to pay the premium.

This APL option

ensures there is never any lapse in policy payments.

100. No payment was missed.

Even if it had been, the APL option should

have covered it.

NYL intentionally neglected to credit the payments made from

Plaintiff's account and purposefully ignored the APL option as a pretext to harass,

discriminate against, and deplete Plaintiff’s financial resources.

Defendant New

York Life fraudulently charged Plaintiff when NYL deducted the payments in the

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first place and alleged that they were not paid.

Defendant New York Life

fraudulently charged Plaintiff again when it collected the $3,475.24 check that was

drawn from Plaintiff’s wife’s account to cover the alleged "lapse" in Plaintiff's

daughter's policy.

101. As a result of Defendant NYL’s unlawful discriminatory termination

or forced resignation of Plaintiff, and its campaign to discredit Plaintiff through

fraudulently manufactured complaints, Plaintiff has been unable to find or sustain

meaningful work.

Plaintiff is unable to service clients, obtain new clients, and is

hampered with significant financial burdens.

Plaintiff is also forced to rebut the

vast number of manufactured FINRA complaints, and the irreparable damage these

have done to his reputation. The fees to defend each false FINRA claim have been

devastating to Plaintiff's finances. Defendant NYL has discredited Plaintiff in such

a way that it is likely he can never recover from same.

COUNT ONE 42 U.S.C. § 1981:

RACE DISCRIMINATION

102. Plaintiff adopts and re-alleges each and every allegation contained in

this Complaint as if set out anew herein.

103. When plaintiff accepted employment with New York Life, he entered

into a contract with New York Life, whereby he was entitled to the enjoyment of

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all

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privileges,

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and

conditions

of

the

contractual

relationship as his non-African American counterparts.

104. When New York Life denied Plaintiff support and opportunities for

career advancement, promotion, and equal earning opportunities, it interfered with

the contract with plaintiff and otherwise denied plaintiff the benefits and privileges

of the contract based upon his race.

105. New York Life’s denial of the benefits and privileges of the contract

with plaintiff was intentional, malicious and otherwise in reckless disregard of

plaintiff’s rights under Section 1981.

106. In taking the above described actions, Defendant New York Life

intentionally and willfully discriminated against plaintiff due to his race, African-

American, in violation of § 1981. Plaintiff, an African-American, was not treated

the same as his Caucasian peers regarding sales leads, training, assignments,

promotion, chargebacks, customer service errors, communication with clients,

terms and conditions of employment, termination, and ultimately manufactured

complaints to discredit Plaintiff.

107. Defendant New York Life’s actions were in violation of §1981 and

the XIII Amendment to the Constitution, and were taken with malice or reckless

indifference to the federally-protected rights of Plaintiff.

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108. As a proximate consequence of the violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1981 by

Defendant New York Life, Plaintiff has suffered and will continue to suffer

damage to his professional life and future career opportunities, future pecuniary

losses, emotional pain, inconvenience, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life,

and non-pecuniary damage.

WHEREFORE,

following relief:

PREMISES

CONSIDERED,

Plaintiff

demands

the

a. Placement in the position(s) in which he would have worked absent said Defendant’s discriminatory treatment; or, in lieu thereof, front pay;

b. All back pay from the date of his wrongful termination;

c. An injunction ordering New York Life to cease its discriminatory practices as described herein;

d. Pre-judgment interest;

e. Attorneys’ fees;

f. Costs;

g. Compensatory damages for loss of wages, loss of benefits, including, but not limited to, retirement benefits, mental anguish, emotional distress, embarrassment, both past and future;

h. Punitive damages, to deter such conduct in the future; and

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i. Such other legal or equitable relief as may be appropriate to effectuate the purposes of § 1981 and the XIII Amendment to the Constitution, or to which he may be entitled.

COUNT TWO DEFAMATION (DEFENDANT CORINA)

109. Plaintiff adopts and re-alleges each and every allegation contained in

this Complaint as if set out anew here.

110. The

false,

incorrect,

misleading

and

disparaging

statements

by

Defendant Corina set out hereinabove were designed to disparage Plaintiff, reflect

poorly on him, cast him in a false light, justify his termination, and destroy his

career as an insurance agent.

111. As a result of these false, incorrect, misleading and disparaging

statements by Corina, Plaintiff has been unable to find similar employment

because of the cloud hanging over his head.

Corina's malicious and defamatory

actions have sullied Plaintiff's good name and emptied his bank account.

112. As a result of Corina's aforesaid actions, Mr. Marks has suffered

mental anguish, embarrassment, and humiliation.

His inability to find work will

affect his future earnings and professional status for the foreseeable future.

WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, Plaintiff prays that a struck

jury award him the following:

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a. Compensatory damages, to include mental anguish, lost professional income, attorney=s fees, costs, and such other relief to which he is entitled; and punitive damages against the individual Defendant, to deter such conduct in the future.

PLAINTIFF DEMANDS TRIAL BY STRUCK JURY ON ALL CLAIMS SO TRIABLE.

OF COUNSEL:

JOHN D. SAXON, P.C. 2119 3 rd Avenue North Birmingham, Alabama 35203 Telephone: 205.324.0223 Facsimile: 205.323.1583 Email: jsaxon@saxonattorneys.com dcude@saxonattorneys.com mgreaves@saxonattorneys.com

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Respectfully submitted,

/s/ John D. Saxon

John D. Saxon Alabama Bar No. ASB-3258-O71J Donna Smith Cude Alabama Bar No. ASB-7680-W18A Mac B. Greaves Jr. Alabama Bar No. ASB-23359-K71F

Case 1:18-cv-00327

OF COUNSEL:

Document 1

Thomas L. Krebs, LLC 15 Office Park Circle, Suite 130 Birmingham AL 35223 Telephone: 205.401.2382 Email: thomaslkrebs@yahoo.com

PLAINTIFF'S ADDRESS:

Clifford D. Marks c/o John D. Saxon, P.C. 2119 3 rd Avenue North Birmingham AL 35203

Filed 07/20/18

Page 35 of 35

/s/ Thomas L. Krebs Thomas L. Krebs Alabama Bar No. ASB6233S81T

Attorneys for Plaintiff

PLEASE SERVE THE FOLLOWING DEFENDANTS BY CERTIFIED MAIL RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED:

New York Life Insurance Company

c/o William Horton, as Registered Agent

4001 Carmichael Road

Montgomery AL 36106-3624

Mr. Alfred Freddie Corina

1110 Montlimar Drive, Suite 1010

Mobile, AL 36609

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