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JUDGE DISMISSES CLAIMS IN LAWSUIT AGAINST FINANCIAL PLANNERS GROUP

A State Supreme Court judge has dismissed the claims made in a $6 million lawsuit filed by a former president of the region's professional society for financial planners against the local group and one of its former presidents, as well as its national parent organization.

State Supreme Court Justice Christopher J. Burns dismissed claims made in a lawsuit filed by Lawrence C. Jones of West Seneca against the Western New York chapter of the International Association of Financial Planning and its former president, Carl M. Balmas.

Burns also dismissed the claims against the group's national parent organization, the International Association for Financial Planning.

But Burns let stand claims that Jones made against another former president of the local group, Frank J. Antonucci of Colden. No trial date has been scheduled for the case.

"The judge really felt it was a dispute between Larry Jones and Frank Antonucci," said Kenneth Africano, the lawyer for the financial planning groups and Balmas.

Jones is considering an appeal of Burns' decision to dismiss the claims against the three defendants, said his attorney, Robert E. Knoer.

In the lawsuit, Jones alleges that Antonucci defamed him and caused him to lose $1.5 million in business by questioning his ethics and belittling him in public. Jones also alleged that Antonucci tried to coerce him into resigning from the group's board by threatening to investigate his conduct as president.

In response, Antonucci said he has filed a $7 million lawsuit, alleging that Jones had defamed him and attempted to assault him. Antonucci also alleged that Jones' lawsuit is frivolous, writing to the group's members last week that he had "fallen victim to an avalanche of baseless allegations."

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