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Your mother has the burden of proof to establish that money was sent to T.Rowe Price for the purpose of opening an account to be invested. You will need to show that $5000.00 actually made it to T.Rowe Price.
It then becomes T.Rowe Price's (TRP) burden to show what it did with the money. If TRP sent a check then the canceled check should be produced. If not they should cut a new check.
The question that may come up is that why in 27 years did your mother never question not receiving any statement from TRP.
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My mother is a widowed (somewhat senile) 89-year old. She says she purged all her records prior to 1990 (other than the receipts for sending money to T Rowe Price). I'm not sure why she didn't question the 27-year period. She did move money from a TRP money market fund into a TRP high yield fund in 1993, I believe she thought she was adding to "the" existing ($5000?) account, but the records we have indicate that the money was actually used to initiate a new High Yield account (this is adding to the confusion). Nevertheless, the initial 1986, $5000 investment seems to have dissapeared whch is why we're considering a lawsuit. Thanks for you advice. I think we will pursue this with a law firm.
Good Luck. I hope you can get your mother's funds back.