Friday, September 29, 2017
Max Hopper, a former American Airline executive, is credited with pioneering an innovative reservation system for the massive airline. When he died in 2010 without a will, his estate was valued at more than $19 million. JPMorgan Chase & Co. was charged with independently and impartially dividing and distributing Hopper’s assets between the appropriate beneficiaries. Instead, the bank took an egregious amount of time to release interests in furnishings, jewelry, art, and the 900 bottles of wine and 6,700 golf putters left in the estate.
This lapse led to a lawsuit spearheaded by Hopper’s wife, Jo Hopper, and two stepchildren. A Dallas jury found that the bank’s actions constituted a breach of fiduciary duty and fraud. Most surprising however, is the $4 billion in punitive damages they awarded to the family. In response to the verdict, Jo Hopper stated: "The nation’s largest bank horribly mistreated me and this verdict provides protection to others from being mistreated by banks that think they’re too powerful to be held accountable.”
See Thomas Korosec, JPMorgan Ordered to Pay More Than $4 Billion To Widow and Family, Bloomberg, September 26, 2017.
Special thanks to Cassandra L. Hill, Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.), & Joel C. Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.