February 26, 2019
By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK (Reuters) – A federal judge in Manhattan on Tuesday dismissed a wrongful death lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase & Co by the estate of a former top broker, who it said committed suicide after being forced into retirement.
U.S. District Judge John Keenan said it was not reasonably foreseeable that JPMorgan’s treatment of Michael Lorig would cause him to take his life at age 66 on Jan. 22, 2017, after years of what the estate called depression and mental illness.
Keith Fleischman, a lawyer for the estate, declined to comment. JPMorgan also declined to comment.
According to the complaint, Lorig was a senior managing director from Florida who joined JPMorgan after it bought his former employer Bear Stearns in 2008.
The marathoner and avid cyclist performed in the top 20 percent of his division and commanded seven-figure pay, but was told on Aug. 8, 2016, there was “no work for him to return to” after he spent two years on disability leave, the complaint said.
Lorig had twice previously taken leaves of absence for his depression, and his mental health issues were or should have been known to the bank, the complaint added.
Keenan, said, however, that because Lorig had assumed he could return to work after his disability leave, only actions taken by JPMorgan after he was told he could not return could be said to have caused his suicide.
The judge also said it had been nearly two years since Lorig’s doctors advised JPMorgan that Lorig might be suicidal.
“Given these circumstances, it was not reasonably foreseeable that defendants’ actions would result in Lorig’s suicide,” Keenan wrote. “These actions were simply too attenuated to be the proximate cause.”
The estate had sought a variety of monetary damages.
The case is Mullaugh as personal representative of the Estate of Lorig v JPMorgan Chase & Co et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 18-02908.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Peter Cooney)