JP Morgan asks judge to nix whistleblower lawsuit

The Greenwich Time

Debra Friedman, Staff Writer
Published 10:45 p.m., Sunday, August 22, 2010

Lawyers representing financial giant JPMorgan Chase & Co., are firing back at a Greenwich employee who claims the company retaliated against him for blowing the whistle on alleged deceptive investment and management tactics.

The bank wants a judge to strike a complaint filed by Greenwich resident Kevin Dillon, arguing that his case is “legally insufficient” because he was never fired or suspended, according to a motion filed in state Superior Court in Stamford last week.

“While JP Morgan sharply disputes Dillon’s allegations, it is apparent that Dillon’s claims must be dismissed because Dillon has not even arguably set forth a viable cause of action against JP Morgan,” states the motion.

“Dillon remains employed with JP Morgan, the raise he received in late 2008 remains in effect, and he has not been demoted, suspended or reprimanded in the time period relevant to this complaint.”

In July, Dillon, a client processing specialist, filed a complaint against JP Morgan alleging that supervisors at the company attempted to force him out of his job after he discovered “highly questionable accounting and management practices” of Highland Capital Management LP, a Texas-based hedge fund that receives support services from JP Morgan, according to the lawsuit.

In his complaint, Dillon states that he observed Highland Capital “artificially manipulating” the net asset value of certain funds by cross-trading assets between Highland hedge funds at settlement prices that were deceptively set, backdating cross-trades to capture a more favorable asset value and placing poor-performing investments in a particular fund called the “Crusader Fund” to shield its other portfolios, among other allegations.

Dillon said after he informed his superiors at JP Morgan about the problems, they told him nothing would be done to remedy the issue and later cut his bonus, left him out of meetings and attempted to harass and embarrass him, according to his lawsuit.

Highland Capital is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit. In July, Highland officials called Dillon a “disgruntled employee” who was using their company as a pawn in his employment lawsuit. Highland has strongly denied all allegations.

Lawyers for JP Morgan said despite the allegations, Dillon provided no basis for his belief that these practices were “questionable” and failed to point to any regulation or statute that was violated, according to the motion.

The motion also said that after Dillon reported the allegations involving Highland, he received a raise and a bonus.

In the initial complaint, Dillon said that his supervisor attempted to force him out by promoting less qualified employees over him, leaving him out of meetings and intimidating him by discussing the wide array of guns he owned.

However, JP Morgan lawyers said while Dillon claims his boss attempted to push him out of the company, the supervisor’s behavior merely consisted of “petty slights or minor annoyances that cannot support a retaliation claim,” according to the motion.

Lawyers for the bank further state Dillon failed to prove that he is owned anything from the company under any employment contract.

“Dillon’s complaint purports to set forth supposed misconduct by JP Morgan, but it does not even purport to claim that this alleged malfeasance deprived him of any tangible benefit to which he was entitled under the alleged contract,” states the motion. “This deficiency is fatal to Dillon’s claim.”

Attorney Mark Sherman, who represents Dillon, said they plan to file a motion in opposition in the next 45 days before a judge makes a ruling.

“This is exactly what we expected,” said Sherman. “Instead of appreciating Kevin for stepping forward and raising his concerns, Chase continues to aggressively litigate against him. We are therefore hopeful that the court allows this lawsuit to move forward so that depositions can get started.”

Lawyers for JP Morgan declined to comment.

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