Wells Fargo Must Pay Missouri Woman $77M Over Mismanagement Of Trust Funds

May 13, 2015  |  

A Missouri jury recently awarded 78-year-old Barbara Burton Morriss of the St. Louis suburb of Olivette a whopping $77 million in damages in a lawsuit against Wells Fargo. The lawsuit alleged that the bank mismanaged her family trusts, and as a result cost her tens of millions of dollars.

The lawsuit has been ongoing; Morriss filed the suit back in early 2012. According to court papers, she claims the bank breached its fiduciary responsibility by not fully disclosing financial transactions in two family trusts that lost money.

Not only was Morriss left in the dark by the bank but she was deceived by her own son. She was a beneficiary and co-trustee on both trusts with her son, venture capitalist B. Douglas Morris. Morris is currently serving five years in federal prison for tax evasion. He helped raise, through his venture and other companies, tens of millions of dollars in private equity and venture capital funds. That was until the companies he led filed for bankruptcy in January 2012. Morris listed more than $35 million in debts.

But Morriss says she didn’t learn her trust accounts had been wiped out until late 2011. She was shocked to discover this when her credit card was declined at Neiman Marcus.

“Her lawsuit alleged that funds in both trusts were wrongfully pledged as collateral for risky business ventures — something she became aware of after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission accused her son of defrauding investors in January 2012,” reports Yahoo.

The jury award includes more than $45 million in actual damages and nearly $32 million in punitive damages related to one of the trusts. Later this month, there will be another hearing on damages related to the second trust.

Wells Fargo says it’s weighing its legal options and whether or not it will appeal.

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