Judge Slams “Prejudiced” Jury in JPMorgan Lawsuit
A New York judge has upended a jury verdict to award $1.13 million to a former JPMorgan wealth manager who claimed she had been fired over whistleblowing, Bloomberg reports.
Tuesday, a jury in a Manhattan federal court found that JPMorgan had fired Jennifer Sharkey in 2009 in retaliation for her recommendation to drop a client she suspected of money laundering, according to the news service. The panel awarded Sharkey $563,000 in back pay and $563,000 for emotional damage, rejecting JPMorgan’s claims that Sharkey was fired for lying, Bloomberg writes.
But “the award of emotional damages says to me that the jury was prejudiced against the bank,” U.S. District Judge Denise Cote said just an hour after the jury reached the verdict, according to the news “That undermines the entire verdict.”
Cote said the size of the emotional damages — at exactly the same amount as the back pay — suggested that the jury, against her instructions, intended to award Sharkey punitive damages, according to Bloomberg. Cote said she’ll likely order a new trial if Sharkey and JPMorgan don’t settle, Bloomberg writes.
Sharkey claimed she was fired a day after she informed JPMorgan of her plan to terminate the account of a diamond broker and founder of a calling-card business whom she suspected of fraud and money-laundering. The client had $14 million under management at JPMorgan. He was eventually cleared and stayed with the firm. But according to last week’s testimony from Leslie Lassiter, Sharkey’s former boss and one of the defendants named in Sharkey’s suit,the wealth manager was let go for repeatedly lying about having contacted another client who had about $25 million with the bank.
In upending the jury’s verdict, Cote said that a “rational jury” would not have fallen for Sharkey’s claim that she believed the diamond seller to be involved in fraud, Bloomberg writes. Cote said that the evidence indicated that JPMorgan had fired Sharkey for lying, according to the news service. Both sides declined comment to Bloomberg.