The Manhattan federal judge overseeing the lawsuit brought against JPMorgan Chase by victims of the late billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein on Thursday rejected the plaintiffs’ motion to disqualify the law firm defending the bank, Reuters reported.
Late last year, a class action lawsuit was filed in New York by victims of Epstein who claimed that by having Epstein as a client, JPMorgan Chase enabled and benefited from his trafficking operation by giving “special treatment” to the late financier. The plaintiffs argue that but for the participation of JPMorgan Chase, Epstein’s trafficking scheme would not have existed.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs recently filed a motion for the bank’s law firm WilmerHale to be disqualified from the case due to a conflict of interest over its previous representation of an anti-sex trafficking group ECPAT-USA that once supported another Epstein accuser, Courtney Wild.
In his decision on Thursday, US District Judge Jed Rakoff said that no conflict of interest existed and there is no proof that Courtney Wild ever gave the firm any confidential information that was material to the lawsuit against JPMorgan. Rakoff argued that the bank would suffer “great prejudice” from having its representation disqualified “so late in this litigation.”
In 2021, WilmerHale’s client ECPAT-USA filed a legal brief with the Supreme Court in support of Wild’s unsuccessful attempt to void a 2007 agreement immunizing Epstein from federal prosecution.
WilmerHale is also representing JPMorgan in the lawsuit brought against the bank by the government of the US Virgin Islands. As in the other civil suit, the Virgin Islands is accusing JPMorgan of enabling and benefiting from Epstein’s illegal activities.
The lawsuit against JPMorgan, along with a similar lawsuit against Deutsche Bank, was filed by Epstein’s victims under a new law in New York State that allows victims of sexual assault to sue their abusers even after the statute of limitations on criminal charges has expired.
Epstein first became a client of JPMorgan in 1998, keeping millions in deposits. In 2008, he was convicted of soliciting an underage prostitute and sentenced to 13 months. Despite his conviction, Epstein remained a client at JPMorgan until 2013 when the bank dropped him.