Rockland lawyer David Lapa is suing JPMorgan Chase Bank for $10.2 million for suddenly closing his bank accounts.
“I regularly rely on Chase to conduct my personal and professional banking activities,” Lapa said in a May 16 letter to a Chase bank in Nanuet. “Chase did not even have the decency to advise me before taking such consequential action.”
Chase spokeswoman Briana Curran declined to comment on the lawsuit or discuss why banks may close accounts.
Banks have broad discretion to close accounts, according to a 2014 article published by CNN Money, ranging from lots of bounced checks, to a sudden surge in account activity, to involvement in high-risk industries, “even when a customer isn’t doing anything explicitly illegal.”
Lapa, of Monsey, said he was given no explanation. He has been a Chase customer for nearly two decades, he consistently makes all payments as they become due, and he has never been in default on his accounts.
Lapa accused Chase of breach of contract and breach of good faith and fair dealing, in a complaint filed May 19 in Rockland Supreme Court. The lawsuit was moved a week later to U.S. District Court, White Plains, at Chase’s request.
Lapa was admitted to the practice of law in New York in 2015. He is a partner in Menashe and Lapa LP in Suffern. He also serves as general counsel to Creative Kids Group, according to his LinkedIn profile, an arts and crafts company for which he works on trademark issues and negotiates trade deals.
On May 14, the bank “summarily closed” his personal and business accounts, according to the complaint, without providing prior notice.
Lapa claims that the bank declined numerous charges, he missed payments that he owed, and he was not given the opportunity to seek credit elsewhere or “prepare for a shock to my financial arrangements.”
“There is real and imminent danger of significant harm to me,” he states in an affidavit. If Chase reports the account closures to credit agencies, for instance, “it can damage my credit reputation and standing and restrict access to credit from other institutions.”
Lapa is demanding $200,000 for alleged violation of a regulations that requires 45 days notice for significant changes in consumer credit plans. He is demanding $10 million in punitive damages.
“I am appalled and disgusted,” Lapa said in the May 16 letter to Chase, “that after having a relationship with Chase for close to two decades that I would be treated so inequitably … and without explanation!”
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