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SAN ANTONIO -- Chase Manhattan Corp. will seek dismissal of a federal jury verdict against it for $151 million in punitive and actual damages for its role in allegedly bungling a stock transaction for a Texas discount retailer.
The San Antonio-based retailer, 50-Off Stores Inc., claims it was forced in to bankruptcy in 1996 partly as a result of the botched deal. It subsequently reorganized and renamed itself Lotsoff Corp.
The stock transaction dates back to 1994, when 50-Off was seeking to raise $5.5 million through a private share placement to buy merchandise for the Christmas shopping season, said Barry Chasnoff, a senior partner at Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld in San Antonio who represented Lotsoff.
Chase Manhattan, which acted for 50-Off, transferred the shares to two international purchasers of the shares before it received payment, Mr. Chasnoff said. The two purchasers then disappeared. One is now in prison in Canada for unrelated tax offenses, and the whereabouts of the other is unknown, he said.
The retailer reached an undisclosed settlement with another bank involved in the transaction, Banque Paribas Switzerland, and it is separately suing the brokerage involved, Jefferies Group Inc.
In the Chase case, the jury awarded $13 million in actual damages and $138 million in punitive damages.
A Chase spokesman said the bank will seek to have the verdict thrown out.