B-School Life

Bank of America Intern Died of Epilepsy, Post-Mortem Finds


A post-mortem on a Bank of America (BAC) intern in London whose death made headlines in August found that he died of epilepsy, the British coroner’s office said on Monday. In a separate development, the intern’s father is calling on the U.K. to pass laws prohibiting excessive work hours, which may have been a factor in his son’s death.

Moritz Erhardt, 21, died on Aug. 15. He was found unconscious at Claredale House, a residential facility for students, and pronounced dead after being treated by paramedics. Erhardt was near the end of a seven-week internship at the bank.

A spokesman for the London coroner’s court told Bloomberg News that the cause of death was epilepsy, a condition that affects the brain and causes repeated seizures. The court will hold an inquest into Erhardt’s death on Nov. 22, the spokesman said. An inquest, or investigation into the circumstances surrounding a death, is typically held when the death is sudden or unexplained.

In an interview with London’s Observer published on Saturday, Hans-Georg Dieterle, Erhardt’s father, speculated that his son, who had a history of epilepsy, may have suffered a seizure brought on by the lack of sleep and drowned in the shower after becoming unconscious. At the time of Erhardt’s death, there were concerns that he may have worked several hours straight prior to his death.

Dieterle says he does not blame the bank for his son’s death but would like the U.K. government to reconsider its statutes, according to the Observer. “Something needs to change,” he told the newspaper. “I do really hope the British government will now start revising working hours and employment laws. I think it’s the government that has to pass the legislation.”

In the family’s native Germany there are strict regulations about how many hours people can work, which Dieterle says might have prevented his son from spending so much time at the London office. In Erhardt’s previous internship, at KPMG’s consulting group in Frankfurt in 2012, the hours, Dieterle says, were “less taxing” because of the regulations.

The incident triggered a debate over working conditions for interns, particularly in the investment banking industry. In the wake of Erhardt’s death, Bank of America said it would devise a group to investigate working conditions at the bank. John McIvor, a spokesman for the bank, declined to comment.

Erhardt attended WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management in Vallendar, Germany, according to his biography page on the social network site seelio.com, and was an exchange student at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business until three months before his death. A spokesperson from WHU said the school would no longer comment on his passing.

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Francesca_dimeglio
Di Meglio is a reporter for Businessweek.com in Fort Lee, N.J.

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