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Former baseball player screwed out of millions now suing lawyer who botched claim against broker

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Robert Person

After losing millions of dollars through bad investments, a struggling former major league baseball player is suing the lawyer who he says screwed up the claim against his broker.

Clearwater resident Robert Person is a 47-year-old former professional baseball player who pitched for four Major League teams from 1995-2003, with a career won-loss record of 51-42 and a 4.64 ERA.

During his career, Person earned nearly $12 million, including $6.25-million in 2002 from the Philadelphia Phillies.

Person’s agent introduced him to Ralph Jackson, a stockbroker and former basketball player.

Jackson, 54, is a former UCLA basketball player who played a single game in the NBA and two seasons in the Continental Basketball Association. He now works as a senior vice president with Morgan Stanley in Los Angeles and had been a licensed broker for roughly 30 years.

After several years, Person had become unhappy with his investment returns, and hired attorney Patrick Davis in 2008 to sue Jackson for making “false and misleading” statements which led Person  into making “inappropriate investments.”

Attorney Patrick Davis

Davis is a sole practitioner attorney based in Palm Harbor. State licensing records show he has not been disciplined by the Florida Bar in the past decade.

According to court records, Person claims to have lost more than $1-million in principal and interest.

in 2014, Person hired attorney Mark Zussman to pursue a claim against Jackson and the brokerage firm UBS. In that action, Person ultimately settled for an undisclosed “greatly reduced amount.” A June 2016 letter shows Person hired Illinois attorney Howard Prossnitz to institute a malpractice claim against Davis, with apparently unsuccessful results.

In a lawsuit filed Feb. 28 in Pinellas County Circuit Court without benefit of an attorney, Person accuses attorney Davis of negligence and professional malpractice.

Failing to either settle with Jackson, file a lawsuit or Financial Industry Regulatory Authority claim in a timely fashion, Davis IS accused of allowing the statute of limitations to expire.

Living in Pinellas County for many years, Person has had a few minor run-ins with police. In 2001, he was arrested for giving a false name to police and obstructing an officer without violence; in 2004 for disorderly conduct; in 2005 for DUI and obstructing an officer without violence; and in 2010 for failing to appear in court on a charge of driving with a suspended or revoked license.

Talking with Sports Illustrated in 2011, Person said he was: “struggling to get by, a victim, he says, of terrible investments and manipulative handlers. He is divorced, mostly apart from his five daughters, renting a small home in Largo … trying to score little bits of carpentry work here and there. His days, he said, are long and sometimes depressing — made bearable by the three rec league softball teams who feature him on the roster, as well as a part-time coaching gig at a local high school … ’When you’re playing, you assume — by investing your money — you’ll be set for life. Well, I trusted the wrong people. Bad people who took advantage.’”

Jackson has faced legal action from customers in the past. In his Finra report, his brokerage houses have settled a number of customer claims, including a $6-million settlement in 2013.

Fitapelli Kurtz, a New York law firm specializing in stock fraud, is currently attempting to assemble a group of investors who believe Jackson may have defrauded them.

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