Multiple U.S. states have voiced their objections to JP Morgan Chase’s class-action settlement with Jeffrey Epstein’s accusers, saying it could limit their ability to seek compensation for sexual abuse victims.
The attorneys general of 16 states and Washington, D.C., wrote a letter, which was published on Oct. 23 in the Manhattan federal court.
It states that the $290 million settlement includes language that prevents “any sovereign or government” from seeking damages, relating to accusations of sex trafficking by Epstein and the late financier’s associates.
The attorneys general said the inclusion of such language without their consent would deter them from seeking damages for sex trafficking victims under the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act. This would also apply to other trafficking victims, not just Epstein’s.
The letter went on to say that a similar $75 million agreement between Deutsche Bank and Epstein’s accusers didn’t include what the attorneys general deem to be controversial language.
“Jeffrey Epstein’s surviving victims should be fully compensated for the profound harm they have suffered. However, as it now stands, the settlement agreement improperly seeks to release (the states’) claims for victim-specific relief,” New Mexico Attorney General Raul Torrez wrote.
The letter was also signed by attorneys general of Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, and Vermont.
JP Morgan’s settlement is still awaiting approval by U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff, who ordered both JPMorgan and Epstein’s accusers to address the states’ objection by Nov. 6. This will be followed by a hearing on Nov. 9, when final approval will be considered, according to court records.
JP Morgan was accused of turning a blind eye to Epstein’s sex trafficking to protect its financial interests.
Epstein had been a lucrative client of the largest U.S. bank for around 15 years, from 1998 to 2013, when the bank terminated his accounts. However, the lawsuit alleged that the bank knew about sex trafficking accusations made against Epstein for years before they dropped him as a client.
Epstein victim lawyers previously said that around $200 million of the settlement will to go into a “global settlement fund” to be made available to the class of women who say they were victimized by Epstein.
A separate agreement was reached between JP Morgan and the U.S. Virgin Islands, where Epstein had a home. JP Morgan agreed to pay a settlement of $75 million last month.
Epstein is alleged to have committed suicide in August 2019 in a Manhattan jail cell, while awaiting trial over federal charges of sex trafficking minors.
NTD has contacted JPMorgan who did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The case is Doe 1 v JPMorgan Chase & Co, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 22-10019
Reuters contributed to this article.