NEW YORK (Reuters) -A U.S. judge rejected requests to sever JPMorgan Chase & Co’s lawsuit accusing former executive Jes Staley of concealing what he knew about Jeffrey Epstein from two related lawsuits over its work for the late sex offender.
Monday’s decision by U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan is a defeat for Staley, who said the scheduled Oct. 23 trial for all three cases left him too little time to defend against JPMorgan’s “slanderous” accusations.
It is also a defeat for women who claim that Epstein sexually abused them and are suing the largest U.S. bank.
They claimed that JPMorgan sued Staley as a means to “harass and intimidate” them into revealing private medical records and communications in their case.
Epstein was a JPMorgan client from 2000 to 2013. The U.S. Virgin Islands, where the financier had a home, is also suing JPMorgan.
In a separate decision, Rakoff rejected JPMorgan’s request to block the U.S. Virgin Islands from expanding its lawsuit by adding an obstruction charge and a claim that bank executives joked about Epstein’s interest in young girls.
Staley, 66, is a former JPMorgan private banking chief who later spent six years as Barclays Plc’s chief executive before resigning in November 2021.
In rejecting a separate trial for JPMorgan’s lawsuit against Staley, Rakoff called Staley a “prominent focus” of all three cases, and noted how his Washington law firm Williams & Connolly calls itself one of the world’s “premier” litigation firms.
“None of Staley’s whines remotely warrants either a severance or a change in the joint trial date,” Rakoff wrote.
The judge also said Epstein’s accusers “cannot have been blind” to their need to disclose sensitive information.
Brendan Sullivan, a lawyer for Staley, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Brad Edwards, a lawyer for the accusers, said in an email: “The decision is in accord with the law. The survivors we represent are strong and will not cower to bullying by banks, so we will continue to prove what is a very strong case.”
JPMORGAN DENIES ACCUSATIONS
JPMorgan declined to comment on Rakoff’s decisions.
In a Monday night court filing, the New York-based bank denied substantive claims it faces, and said it had no knowledge that force, threats of force, fraud or coercion would be used to further Epstein’s abuses.
The U.S. Virgin Islands is seeking unspecified damages, while Epstein’s accusers are seeking potentially billions of dollars in damages.
JPMorgan sued Staley last month to have him cover its losses in both lawsuits and forfeit eight years of compensation.
Staley has expressed regret for his friendly relationship with Epstein, and denied knowing about his alleged crimes.
He has also been accused of swapping sexually suggestive messages with Epstein about young women, and committing sexual assault himself.
Epstein killed himself at age 66 in August 2019 in a Manhattan jail while awaiting trial for sex trafficking.
The cases in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York are: Jane Doe 1 v JPMorgan Chase & Co, No. 22-10019; Government of the U.S. Virgin Islands v JPMorgan Chase Bank NA, No. 22-10904; and JPMorgan Chase Bank NA v Staley, in Nos. 22-10019 and 22-10904.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Richard Chang)