JPMorgan opposes class-action status for Epstein accusers

FILE PHOTO: JPMorgan Chase Bank in New York

By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - JPMorgan Chase & Co on Friday asked a federal judge to deny class-action status to more than 100 women who said the bank helped enable the late financier Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse them.

In a filing in Manhattan federal court, the largest U.S. bank said Epstein's accusers had too many differences to sue under an "oversimplified" theory that it was liable to all of them by having provided Epstein with banking services.

JPMorgan said allowing a class action "skips over" how Epstein's conduct "varied from victim to victim, and across time," and that the bank's knowledge at the time and provision of banking services similarly varied.

The question "is not whether Epstein's behavior was monstrous. It was," JPMorgan said. "The question before the court is whether to certify a class in this lawsuit. It should not."

Lawyers for the accusers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Class actions let plaintiffs sue as a group, potentially allowing greater recoveries at lower costs than if they were forced to sue individually.

Epstein was a JPMorgan client from 1998 to 2013.

He was also a Deutsche Bank AG client from 2013 to 2018, which faces a separate proposed class action by Epstein's accusers.

In both lawsuits, the accusers have called the banks "Epstein's secret weapon" that made his years of sexual abuse and trafficking possible.

Both cases are scheduled for trial later this year. The banks have denied wrongdoing.

Epstein died in August 2019 in a Manhattan jail cell while awaiting trial for sex trafficking, in what New York City's medical examiner called a suicide.

The cases in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, are Jane Doe 1 v Deutsche Bank AG et al, No. 22-10018, and Jane Doe 1 v JPMorgan Chase Bank NA, No. 22-10019.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)