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JPMorgan Ordered to Pay $4 Billion on Estate Mishandling

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JPMorgan Chase & Co. Has been ordered by a Dallas jury to pay over $4 billion in damages for mishandling the estate of a former American Airlines executive.

The six-person jury ruled that the bank fraudulently and negligently squandered millions of dollars from the estate of Max D. Hopper, worth $25 million. Hopper is widely credited with bringing airline ticketing systems into the IT age. He worked at American Airlines for more than two decades.

The jury awarded $4 billion in punitive damages and $5 million in actual damages to Hopper's children and wife.

The lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase was filed by Hopper's wife, alleging that the bank's "continued failures have deprived the heirs of a full and proper distribution of the estate's assets." Laura Wassmer and Dr. Stephen Hopper, the legal heirs of the estate and children of Hopper, joined the suit.

Hopper died suddenly in 2010 after suffering a stroke. Hopper and his wife jointly accrued assets worth over $19 million throughout their 28-year marriage. He died intestate, meaning he had never signed a will.

"Instead of independently and impartially collecting and dividing the estate's assets, the bank took years to release basic interests in art, home furnishings, jewelry and notably, Mr. Hopper's collection of 6,700 golf putters and 900 bottles of wine," said the family's lawyer in a statement. "Some of the interests in the assets were not released for more than five years. Even today some assets - no more than seven years after Mr. Hopper's death - still have not been released to Mrs. Hopper. "

The jury came to its decision after four weeks of testimony and five hours of deliberation.

"The bank continues to deplete the estate assets and the heirs' inheritance. Wholly disregarding its fiduciary duty to the heirs, the bank has held assets that undeniably belong to the heirs hostage," said the lawyer.

News of the jury award comes after the bank made headlines for its part in fueling Detroit's revival. Invested in Detroit is the bank's neighborhood-by-neighborhood campaign to help revive local real estate markets, train residents for in-demand jobs and launch small businesses.

About 55% of the money the bank has distributed has been in the form of loans.

The jury in the Hopper case found that the bank had breached its fiduciary duty, committed fraud and broke its fee agreement, according to court documents.

"The nation's largest bank horribly mistreated me and this verdict provides protection to others from being mistreated by banks that think they're too powerful to be held accountable," said Jo Hopper, Max Hopper's wife.

The low-end of the jury's award equate to nearly two-thirds of the bank's global profit in the second quarter, according to Bloomberg. It would also rank among the largest sanctions levied against the bank. The bank was ordered to pay $2.6 billion in 2014 for allegedly failing to put an end to Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme. JPMorgan Chase also paid $13 billion in 2013 to the government for the handling of its mortgage bonds, which contributed to the financial crisis.


This article was written by Adam Monson for on .

This article published in collaboration with Scutify, the best app for traders and investors. Download the Scutify iOS App, the Scutify Android App or visit Scutify.com.

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