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Robinhood Settles with Family of College-Aged Trader Who Killed Himself, Believed He Was in Deep Debt

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Investing application Robinhood settled a wrongful death lawsuit with the family of a trader who committed suicide, the company revealed Thursday in initial public offering filings.

Alex Kearns, a 20-year-old college student and trader, committed suicide in June 2020 after his account mistakenly showed a negative balance of $730,000, CBS News reported.

Robinhood had, at the time, sent Kearns an email demanding he pay more than $170,000 within a few days. After Kearns was unable to get in contact with customer support, he took his own life, according to CBS.

“I don’t understand how they allowed that to happen in the first place,” Dan Kearns, Alex’s father, told the outlet.

Robinhood sent Kearns an email the day after he committed suicide informing him he no longer owed money, according to CBS.

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“We don’t want another family to go through this,” his mother, Dorothy Kearns, said.

Kearns’ family filed a lawsuit in February accusing Robinhood of “wrongful death, negligent infliction of emotional stress and unfair business practices,” according to Robinhood’s S-1 filing Thursday, CBS reported. Robinhood settled with the family and the suit was dismissed, according to the filing.

The documents did not show the terms of the settlement.

In a Wednesday tweet, Robinhood outlined the impact that the incident would have on its customer service policies going forward.

“We take our responsibilities to our customers very seriously and want to bring you up to speed on the investments we’ve made in expanding our customer support and more,” the company tweeted.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), a private Wall Street regulator, cited Kearns’ suicide in a statement Wednesday announcing a $70 million penalty on Robinhood.

“In determining the appropriate sanctions, FINRA considered the widespread and significant harm suffered by customers, including millions of customers who received false or misleading information from the firm,” FINRA said in the statement.

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FINRA ordered Robinhood to pay $12.6 million in restitution to other customers who had seen mistaken account balances. Robinhood announced on its blog Wednesday that it was taking steps to improve its customer service.

“We have substantially expanded and enhanced our customer support resources and services, including services provided to options and margin customers,” the post read.

The company announced it had filed for its IPO on Thursday. Robinhood did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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