Ex-Chase Money Manager Loses Benefits Suit

March 10, 2003 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A former Chase Manahattan Co. emerging market portfolio manager has lost a legal skirmish in his bid to sue the company for allegedly trying to force him into a job he didn't want so he could be sacked without severance payments.

US District Judge Lawrence McKenna of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York threw out plaintiff Craig Blessing’s ERISA-violation   suit, Washington-based legal publisher BNA reported. McKenna ruled that Blessing never proved the company offered him a client portfolio manager position knowing he wouldn’t accept it with the goal of firing him without having to pay Blessing a severance.

Wrote Mckenna: “the court is left to guess . . . as to the specific discriminatory conduct.”

According to the ruling, Blessing was first approached about the client portfolio manager job with the suggestion he assume the new role after the merger of Chase and J.P Morgan. Blessing told the manager he was not interested in changing to that position since it entailed a severe reduction in his duties and eliminated his investment decision-making authority. In January 2001, two weeks after the merger, Blessing’s supervisor formally offered him the position of client portfolio manager. Blessing declined and, a month later, Blessing was fired without severance.

The case is Blessing v. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co ., S.D.N.Y., No. 02 Civ. 3874, 2/21/03.