A federal judge on Thursday rejected an effort to disqualify the law firm defending JPMorgan Chase & Co against a lawsuit by women who claim they were abused by Jeffrey Epstein and that the bank aided in the late financier’s sex trafficking.
U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan said the firm WilmerHale did not have a conflict of interest because it once represented an antisex trafficking group that supported Courtney Wild, one of Epstein’s accusers.
Rakoff also found no proof Wild gave WilmerHale confidential information that was material to the JPMorgan case, and said the bank would suffer “great prejudice” from being disqualified “so late in this litigation,” five months before the Oct. 23 trial.
The disqualification request had been made by Brad Edwards, who represents Epstein accusers in the proposed class action against JPMorgan. His request was joined by the named plaintiff, Jane Doe 1.
Edwards and other lawyers representing the accusers did not immediately respond to requests for comment. JPMorgan and WilmerHale did not immediately respond to similar requests.
WilmerHale’s other client, the antisex trafficking group ECPAT-USA, had in a 2021 legal brief to the U.S. Supreme Court supported Wild’s ultimately unsuccessful bid to void a 2007 agreement that immunized Epstein from federal prosecution.
The Washington, D.C.-based law firm is also defending JPMorgan against a lawsuit by the U.S. Virgin Islands, where Epstein allegedly abused women on a private island he owned.
Epstein was a JPMorgan client from 1998 to 2013. The New York-based bank has denied aiding in his sexual abuses.
In August 2019, Epstein killed himself at age 66 in a Manhattan jail cell, where he was awaiting trial for sex trafficking.
The case is Jane 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 Sonali Paul)