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UC Berkeley scholarship donors sue First Republic Bank

 First Republic Bank storefront
Bay City News
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First Republic Bank

A recently filed lawsuit aims to recover $7 million that was intended to provide scholarships to low-income, first generation students at UC Berkeley.

For more than 25 years, George Miller and Janet McKinley have donated money to UC Berkeley for the Miller Scholars Program. They’re now suing First Republic Bank and their financial advisor, Samuel Schoner, claiming that financial mismanagement led to the loss of $7 million intended for the scholarships.

According to the complaint, between 2017 and 2021 Schoner invested more than $7 million of the couple's money in First Republic preferred shares – most of which was designated for the Miller Scholars Program.

In May, First Republic collapsed and has since been acquired by JP Morgan Chase. When the bank failed, the couple's stake in the preferred stock became worth almost nothing.

The couple claims that they “repeatedly” asked their financial advisor to sell the stock, which did not happen. They are suing the bank and their financial advisor for breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, elder abuse and fraud.

The couple's lawyers requested that a jury trial be set faster than a normal case due to 87-year-old Miller's age. It will be heard in San Francisco County Superior Court.

Laura Isaza is an audio journalist primarily covering climate and the environment. Born and raised in the Seattle area, she came to the Bay to attend UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism. On her off time, you'll most likely find her skiing up and down mountains or attempting to climb rocks.