JPMorgan Chase made national headlines last week when New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a lawsuit against the company and two of its subsidiaries, alleging fraud in the way mortgages were packaged and sold to investors in the lead up to the 2008 financial crisis. The federal government threw its support behind the lawsuit, and unconfirmed reports hinted that Chase CEO Jamie Dimon might be facing criminal charges.
Closer to home, a Birmingham woman alleges in a federal lawsuit that Chase and its affiliates caused her to be cheated out of her job at an Alabama insurance company. And we are talking very close to home here.
Carol Shuler alleges that individuals connected to a Pennsylvania debt-collection company called NCO caused her to be unlawfully terminated after roughly three years on the job at Infinity Insurance Company. Ms. Shuler states that she was falsely accused of being tardy to work and then fired shortly after she and her husband had pushed aggressively for discovery in a lawsuit alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) against NCO and the Birmingham debt-collection law firm Ingram and Associates.
In an amended complaint filed July 9, 2012, Ms. Shuler states that NCO is owned by One Equity Partners, the private-investment arm of JPMorgan Chase. (See documents at the end of this post.) Therefore, Ms. Shuler claims, Chase is vicariously liable for the actions of individuals who are connected to NCO and caused her unlawful termination at Infinity Insurance.
Full disclosure: Carol Shuler is my wife, and we have written several times about her termination, which came about 16 months after I was unlawfully fired at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). Throughout the five-year history of this blog, I've referred to my wife as Mrs. Schnauzer. Ironically, I adopted that name out of concern that someone might cause her to be cheated out of a job. Those efforts to mask her identity obviously did not prevent her firing on September 25, 2009, but I've continued to use the Mrs. Schnauzer name simply because she and I have grown fond of it--as have quite a few of our readers.
My wife, however, now is a central player in a federal lawsuit that alleges wrongdoing against one of the largest financial institutions in the world. We have believed in transparency from day one on this blog, so Mrs. Schnauzer will morph into Carol Shuler for purposes of our reporting on this matter.
Tape-recorded evidence proves that I was fired at UAB because of my reporting about the prosecution of former Alabama governor Don Siegelman. My firing almost certainly was driven by conservative and corporate forces connected to former Republican governor Bob Riley and his son, Homewood attorney Rob Riley. I strongly suspect the same forces caused my wife to be fired at Infinity. Drayton Nabers, who was appointed chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court by Riley, sits on the Infinity board and could easily lead an effort to oust any employee at the insurance firm.
Carol Shuler states in her complaint that she became a target at Infinity when she and I aggressively pursued an FDCPA case against NCO. The complaint states that Laura Nettles, an attorney with the Birmingham firm Lloyd Gray and Whitehead (LGW), defended NCO in the debt-collection case. Court documents show that the LGW firm has powerful ties to Infinity, having represented the company in numerous matters.
Where does JPMorgan Chase enter the picture? Ms. Shuler explains in her complaint:
In November 2006, a company called One Equity Partners completed the acquisition of NCO. One Equity Partners is the private-investment arm of JPMorgan Chase, one of the largest financial institutions in the world.
The Shulers started hearing first from NCO and then Ingram and Associates in the spring of 2007, roughly four to six months after NCO had become part of JPMorgan Chase. According to its Wikipedia page, JPMorgan Chase is the largest bank in the United States, and based on a ranking by Forbes, is the largest private corporation in the world—with assets of more than $2 trillion.
Ms. Shuler explains Chase's ties to corruption, which now have made it a target of both state and federal law-enforcement officials:
At the time NCO and Ingram initiated action against Roger Shuler, they either were part of, or represented, the largest bank in the United States. Said bank, JPMorgan, has been connected to a number of fraud cases, according to published reports, including the ongoing LIBOR rate-fixing scam that originated in Europe.
If you are like me, you read about fraud connected to a massive company like JPMorgan Chase and think, "Gee, that seems awfully far away; I don't see how it could have an impact on me."
But if you have a credit card, it can bring Chase and its affiliated fraudsters right into your home. And if you fight back against those fraudsters, the nastiness can seep into your spouse's workplace.
C. Shuler--Motion to Amend
C. Shuler Amended Complaint