A New York state judge left intact most of a lawsuit brought by U.S. billionaire Len Blavatnik accusing JPMorgan Chase
The lawsuit blamed JPMorgan banker Ted Ufferfilge for losing $98 million in an account owned by Blavatnik's industrial holding company, Access Industries, by betting on risky mortgage securities.
Claims for negligence, breach of fiduciary duty and negligent misrepresentation could go forward, New York State Supreme Court Judge Melvin Schweitzer ruled on Friday. Claims for breach of contract were dismissed in part.
The ruling applies to an amended complaint filed in December 2010 after parts of the original complaint were dismissed.
According to the lawsuit, Access had hired JPMorgan's investment management unit to manage the investment account, called CMMF, with conservative objectives.
Instead, the bank and Ufferfilge invested in risky and illiquid mortgage-related securities, at the same time that JPMorgan was shedding the same kind of assets in its own portfolios, according to court filings.
The lawsuit also claimed that JPMorgan should have looked behind the credit ratings assigned to the securities by rating agencies, and independently assessed the securities' actual risk. But the judge dismissed that claim, saying the bank had no obligation to do so.
However, the judge ruled that claims of negligence could go forward because JPMorgan increased CMMF's exposure to residential real estate while the sector was imploding -- and as it was reducing other clients' exposure to the sector.
A spokesman for JPMorgan declined to comment. An attorney for CMMF could not be reached for comment.
The case is CMMF LLC vs J.P. Morgan Investment Management, New York State Supreme Court (New York County), No. 09-601924.
(Reporting by Dena Aubin; Editing by Gary Hill)