DME Journal of Legal Studies [DMEJLS]
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Dallas Jury Orders JP Morgan to Pay $4 Billion in Damages

by Pallavi VershaSeptember 28, 2017

A Dallas six-person jury issued a stunning $4 billion punitive damage verdict against JPMorgan Chase in the largest probate damage award in Texas history.

Max Hopper worked for American Airlines for 24 years. He gets credit for bringing the airline’s ticketing system into the digital age. When he died, in 2010, JPMorgan Chase handled his estate — but not very well, apparently. The bank was hired by Max’s widow, Jo Hopper, and his two children, Dr. Stephen Hopper and Laura Wassmer, in 2010 to independently administer Max’s estate after his sudden and intestate death from a stroke. It goes without saying that JP Morgan will appeal the verdict.

Hopper’s wife, Jo N. Hopper, sued JPMorgan Chase, claiming that the bank’s “lack of due diligence” and “continued failures have deprived the heirs of a full and proper distribution of the estate’s assets” since he died in 2010. Hopper’s children and legal heirs, Dr. Stephen Hopper and Laura Wassmer, joined the lawsuit against the bank.

“Mrs. Hopper asked the jury to send a message loud enough for JPMorgan to hear it all the way to Park Avenue in Manhattan,” said Alan Loewinsohn, lead attorney for Mrs. Hopper. “Hopefully, that message has been received.”

Jo Hopper said in a written statement, “Surviving Stage 4 lymphoma cancer was easier than dealing with this bank and its estate administration.”

“Throughout the estate administration, the heirs asked the bank about various aspects of the estate administration, and the bank repeatedly informed the heirs that it was properly administering the estate,” Anthony “Lenny” Vitullo, who represents Hopper and Wassmer, stated in court documents. “It is now clear that this was false.

“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 Vitullo, who is a partner at Fee, Smith, Sharp & Vitullo.


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