By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK (Reuters) – JPMorgan Chase’s $290 million class-action settlement with Jeffrey Epstein’s accusers has drawn an objection from many U.S. states, which say the accord could limit their ability to seek compensation for sexual abuse victims.
In a letter made public on Monday in Manhattan federal court, the attorneys general of 16 states and Washington, D.C., complained about settlement language that prevents “any sovereign or government” from seeking damages arising from sex trafficking by Epstein and the late financier’s associates.
The attorneys general said including such language without their consent would deter them from seeking damages for sex trafficking victims, not just Epstein’s, under the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act.
They also said Deutsche Bank’s similar $75 million agreement with Epstein’s accusers did not contain the offending language.
“Jeffrey Epstein’s surviving victims should be fully compensated for the profound harm they have suffered,” New Mexico Attorney General Raul Torrez wrote. “However, as it now stands, the settlement agreement improperly seeks to release (the states’) claims for victim-specific relief.”
The attorneys general of Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah and Vermont also signed the letter.
JPMorgan did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Lawyers for Epstein’s accusers did not immediately respond to similar requests.
The settlement requires approval by U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff.
He ordered JPMorgan and Epstein’s accusers to address the states’ objection by Nov. 6. A hearing to consider final approval is scheduled for Nov. 9, court records show.
The settlement resolved claims that the largest U.S. bank turned a blind eye to Epstein’s sex trafficking because he had been a lucrative client between 1998 to 2013, when it terminated his accounts.
Last month, JPMorgan agreed separately to pay $75 million to settle related claims by the U.S. Virgin Islands, where Epstein had a home.
Epstein died in August 2019 in a Manhattan jail cell while awaiting trial for sex trafficking. New York City’s medical examiner called his death a suicide.
The case is Doe 1 v JPMorgan Chase & Co, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 22-10019.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)