Barnett Banks Inc. has been socked with a class action alleging that its brokerage subsidiary misled elderly customers about investment risks.

The case, filed this week in a Florida circuit court, alleges that Barnett Securities Inc. has engaged in deceptive sales practices over the past five years. It was filed by Alpert, Barker & Calcutt, a Tampa, Fla.- based law firm that has brought similar suits against several banks.

Customers were led to believe their money was going into government- insured bank accounts and products, the suit maintains.

A spokeswoman for Jacksonville, Fla.-based Barnett said the suit is without merit and that Barnett will vigorously defend itself in court.

It is the second class action that Alpert, Barker & Cutlett has filed against Barnett Securities. In September, the firm alleged that the unit violated Florida law by selling securities through hundreds of bank branches. Barnett has also denied wrongdoing in that case.

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