Suit blames broker’s suicide on forced retirement that worsened his depression

Disability Law

A wrongful death suit claims JPMorgan Chase & Co. was liable for the suicide of a broker whose depression worsened after the bank forced him to retire.

The suit was filed Monday in federal court in Manhattan by the estate of Michael Lorig, report the New York Law Journal, Fortune and Law360. Lorig died in January 2017 at 66.

Lorig had moved to JPMorgan after Bear Stearns collapsed in the 2008 financial crisis. Before the move, he had often made more than $1 million a year.

Lorig had taken leaves for mental health treatment in 1989 and 2001, and he sought another leave in February 2014 as a result of depression accompanied by anxiety, the suit says. When Lorig realized he needed longer-term disability leave, the defendants “pounced,” the suit says.

The bank pressured Lorig to retire, and permanently reassigned his accounts to younger brokers without his consent. When Lorig refused the retirement offer, JPMorgan Chase “quietly and spitefully terminated his professional licenses, triggering a ticking two-year clock” for Lorig to associate with a new firm to retain his licenses, the suit says. If his licenses expired, Lorig would have to sit for multiple state exams to restore them.

When Lorig was cleared to return to work in August 2016, JPMorgan pressured him to sign a severance package with noncompete terms that effectively prohibited from earning a living in his profession, the suit says. At that time, there were two weeks remaining for Lorig’s licenses, and they ultimately expired.

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JPMorgan had been advised of Lorig’s condition and the fact that he had contemplated suicide, the suit says. The defendants “deliberately ignored, or recklessly or negligently failed to know that he was emotionally fragile, directly and proximately caused Mr. Lorig’s tragic, self-imposed, death,” the suit says.

The case is Mullaugh v. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.

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