The U.S. bank, which is also the largest handler of the juror compensation system, is accused of nickel-and-diming jurors with banking fees.
According a report by Bloomberg, JPMorgan issued debit cards to jurors instead of checks in a handful of jurisdictions. However, those cards came loaded with fees for activities such as balance inquiries, inactivity, using non-Chase ATMs and even check issuance.
Funds held on the cards also became impossible to withdraw from an ATM if the balance fell below $20. In certain places where the cards were issued — like Washington, D.C. — for example, there isn’t a Chase branch or ATM available within a 90 miles.
This type of practice, Bloomberg noted, ensured that the funds would eventually be distributed right back to the bank.
“Chase uses its monopolistic control over juror funds to steal captive jurors’ money by assessing unconscionable and deceptive fees,” William Mark Scott, a lawyer who served on a jury in Washington recently, told Bloomberg. “By making it prohibitively expensive to receive an over-the-counter cash withdrawal from, or to receive a check drawn upon the debit card, Chase ensures a ‘rump’ balance will be left on each debit card – and forfeited.”
Scott sued JPMorgan for allegedly violating the Consumer Protection Act and for unjust enrichment — he also plans to represent any other jurors impacted by the banking fees on JPMorgan debit cards.
“If there is, in fact, any way for jurors to use or withdraw their rump balances, Chase conceals this in order to milk more fees from them,” Scott claimed in the lawsuit. “Indeed, Chase expects and relies on individuals forfeiting these funds to the bank.”
Last year, the bank agreed to shell out $446,822 to ex-cons as part of a settlement in a class action lawsuit that pitted thousands of ex-prisoners against JPMorgan’s over-excessive debit card fees.
The prisoners claimed the bank took advantage of their situation by charging them $10 to withdraw money from a bank teller and $2 for using an ATM that wasn’t part of its network. JPMorgan also agreed to pay as much as $250,000 in attorney fees for the plaintiffs. Since the $446,822 will be split between nearly 50,000 ex-prisoners, none are expecting to get rich. But one did say in a report it was more about the principle rather than a payout.