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Judge appears poised to open Jeffrey Epstein survivor’s suit against JPMorgan to hundreds of potential victims in class action

Jeffrey Epstein stands in front of his Gulfstream

The government entered this photograph of Jeffrey Epstein standing in front of his Gulfstream airplane into evidence during his ex-pilot’s testimony during the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell. (Photo via DOJ)

A federal judge appeared poised on Friday to let a Jeffrey Epstein survivor have hundreds of her peers join her lawsuit accusing JPMorgan Chase of “complicity” in the late predator’s sex-trafficking scheme.

“There can be no case more worthy of class certification than this case,” attorney Sigrid McCawley said in court on Friday.

Senior U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff noted to JPMorgan’s attorney that Epstein’s crimes largely weren’t disputed by the bank.

“You do not dispute that Mr. Epstein was engaged in a longtime sex trafficking venture that involved innumerable young women and required money to make it work,” said Rakoff, a longtime critic of Wall Street during the time of the 2008 financial crisis.

Rakoff also noted that JPMorgan doesn’t dispute that the bank was the source of that money.

Put together, Rakoff said, the survivor’s lawsuit seems like it “easily satisfies” the requirements of class certification. The only remaining question, the judge added, was whether the bank knowingly profited from the bank’s sex-trafficking scheme.

Class action lawsuits must meet and show four common features: numerosity, i.e. having enough plaintiffs; commonality, i.e. regarding matters of law and fact; typicality, i.e. containing similar legal arguments; and adequacy, i.e. meeting common interests.

On the first requirement, the survivors say, the numerosity is self-evident.

“Jeffrey Epstein will go down in history as the world’s most brazen and serial sex offender who, with the assistance of a money-hungry bank, JPMC, ran a decades-long sex-trafficking operation and destroyed the lives of literally hundreds of young females,” the survivor’s attorney wrote in the preliminary statement of their motion. “The crucial element that allowed Jeffrey Epstein to perpetrate these crimes for years was his access to loads of cash from a bank that knew exactly what he was doing and helped him avoid regulators’ scrutiny so that the bank could have its take. JPMC was Epstein’s secret weapon that made decades of sexual abuse and trafficking possible.”

Since originally filed late last year, the lawsuit against JPMorgan has been pursued by a single anonymous plaintiff: Jane Doe, who has made alarming allegations against the bank’s highest-ranking officials. Doe accused its former senior executive Jes Staley of sexual assault, and her lawsuit details some of the 1,200 emails that Staley exchanged with Epstein during a four-year period. Staley has not faced any criminal charges.

JPMorgan filed a separate lawsuit against Staley, claiming he “concealed his personal activities” with Epstein from the bank. Staley led the personal finance and investment divisions of the bank during his tenure.

Counsel for the survivors allege that knowledge of Epstein’s scheme went even higher.

Epstein was a JPMorgan customer between 1998 and 2013, and the lawsuit claims that JPMorgan’s top officials, all the way up to CEO Jamie Dimon, knowingly profited from his sex trafficking. In 2008, Epstein became a registered sex offender after pleading guilty to soliciting prostitution from a minor, and the survivor’s lawsuit alleges that Dimon reviewed his account months later. Epstein remained a customer for five more years before JPMorgan severed ties with him.

Dimon’s deposition in the case also has been scheduled for today.

Former sex trafficking prosecutor Mitchell Epner said that class certification could multiply JPMorgan’s legal woes.

“If Judge Rakoff grants class certification, as it appears he will, that greatly ratchets up the financial pressure on JPMorgan as a defendant,” said Epner, a partner on Rottenberg Lipman Rich PC. “The case, at that point, could only be settled on a class wide basis, which could require payments to far more people than the individuals who filed suit.”

Judge Rakoff signaled that he would try to issue a ruling by June 20.

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."