Chase Draws Fire for Jury Debit Card Scheme

WASHINGTON (CN) – As part of its deal with the District of Columbia to put juror fees on debit cards, JPMorgan Chase claims that free ATM withdrawals ensure juror payment in full. Balking at this scheme in a federal class action, one juror asks Chase to please identify the ATMs that dispense amounts in dollar increments.

“Any jurors with balances in odd dollar increments — including all jurors receiving the statutory $4 travel allowance only — are unable to obtain their full balance for ‘free,’ as Chase claims,” the complaint states, filed Tuesday by D.C. resident William Scott.

Having just served on a jury in July 2016, Scott urges a federal judge to crack down on Chase’s unconscionable practices and return “the ill-gotten funds Chase siphoned off to those who duly fulfilled their civic duty to serve as jurors and are entitled to their full statutory compensation accordingly.”

In addition to the $4 daily travel allowance for all potential jurors in D.C. Superior Court, any juror who is selected for a trial and is not getting paid by his employer is supposed to take home $30 a day.

For those only receiving $4 because they were not picked, according to the complaint, “Chase makes it practically impossible for these jurors to retrieve their money off of the debit cards.”

Scott notes that the debit cards come with monthly charges of $1.50 for “non-use” of the card, $5 for “out-of-network” ATM use, $7 for “simply entering a Chase branch to ask for debit card funds to be converted to cash;” and even charges of 45 cents and 25 cents, respectively, for checking bank balances or for not having enough money in the account to pay for a declined purchase.

Jurors can opt out of the debit card option, but they have to forfeit $15 to get a check, the 40-page complaint states.

“In other words,” Scott says, “Chase has intentionally designed the debit card system such that the fees it charges prevent jurors from actually being able to access the funds to which they are entitled by statute.”

The class seeks punitive damages, alleging unjust enrichment, conversion and violations of a host of laws, including the federal Consumer Protection Act and the D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act.

Scott is represented by Anna Haac of the firm Tycko and Zavareei .

JPMorgan Chase did not return a call for comment.

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