'Average Joe' investment coaches headed to court over allegedly unpaid millions owed in joint venture

By Jonathan Bilyk | Apr 1, 2016

Financial media personalities Todd Horwitz and Adam Mesh, who have built their careers on coaching “average joes” on the intricacies of investing, have landed in Cook County court, with Horwitz accusing Mesh of refusing to pay what he alleged is owed for using Horwitz’s name and brand to boost Mesh’s group of investment marketing campaigns.

On March 30, Horwitz and his company, Bubba Trading Inc., filed suit in Cook County Circuit Court against Mesh and his various business entities, identified in the complaint as Yolo Publishing LLC, Average Joe Trading LLC and Adam Mesh Trading Group, asking the court to order Mesh to pay Horwitz more than $5 million, as well as granting Horwitz the right to look inside Mesh’s business dealings to determine how Mesh has run the various business ventures in which Horwitz purportedly partnered with him.

According to biographies posted on online and in the court complaint, Horwitz, an investment consultant with more than 35 years of experience, has authored “Bubba’s Guide to Trading Options,” and now serves as chief marketing strategist and founder of Chicago-based Bubba Trading and host of “The Bubba Show” online investing program.

According to an online biography posted on his website, Mesh since the early 2000s has built a following of hundreds of thousands of people who look to him and his associates to offer investment coaching through the Adam Mesh Trading Group. He also authored “The Average Joe’s Beginners Guide to the Stock Market.”

According to Horwitz’s complaint, he and Mesh first worked together in 2009, and then formalized a partnership in 2010, with Mesh, under the moniker “Average Joe Options,” agreeing to pay Bubba Trading monthly fees, commissions and royalties, and half of all sales brought in by AJO’s various marketing campaigns, including the products identified as Yolo and Average Joe Trading, in exchange for “certain intellectual properties,” including investment coaching, from Bubba Trading and Horwitz. Horwitz also asserted Mesh and AJO agreed to keep proper accounting records and hand those over to Bubba Trading “on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis.”

According to the complaint, Mesh had paid Bubba Trading from checking accounts purportedly belonging to Yolo Publishing LLC and Adam Mesh Trading Group, and had credited Horwitz “as the one who created ‘Push Factor’ and other investing techniques upon which (Mesh’s) various campaigns were based.”

“(Mesh) and the other corporate co-defendants have and continue to co-opt Bubba and Horwitz’s clients, contacts, goodwill and professional image, without compensation, to lend authority and credibility to their investment marketing campaigns, including but not limited to continually referencing Horwitz as the founder and creator of their marketed investment strategies,” Horwitz’s complaint said.

However, at some time not specified in the complaint, Horwitz said Mesh and his affiliates ceased paying Bubba Trading what Horwitz alleged was owed, alleging “after years of enveloping (Bubba Trading’s) clients, contacts, public image and goodwill into the defendants’ business, the defendants pushed Bubba and Horwitz out from the operations and ceased disbursement of revenue.”

Horwitz’s complaint formally leveled allegations of deceptive practices, breach of contract and tortious interference with a business relationship against Mesh and his affiliated entities, and asked the court to award damages of $1 million in compensatory damages per count, as well as at least $500,000 in punitive damages. He also requested a court-ordered accounting and permission to “pierce the corporate veil,” and glimpse the inner workings of Mesh’s various incorporated enterprises.

Horwitz is represented in the action by attorneys with the firm of Hesik Prybylo, of Oak Park.

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