LONDON — A young intern who worked at Bank of America Merrill Lynch died of an epileptic seizure that may have been triggered by fatigue, a British coroner said Friday.
German-born Moritz Erhardt, 21, was a week from completing a work placement at the bank's London's offices in August when his body was found in the shower of his apartment. The case has sparked widespread speculation that the notorious long working hours and competitive environment at top investment banks were to blame for his death.
At an inquest into his death, coroner Mary Hassell said that Erhardt died after an epileptic seizure, despite regularly taking medication.
"One of the triggers for epilepsy is exhaustion and it may be that because Moritz had been working so hard his fatigue was a trigger for the seizure that killed him," she said. "But that's only a possibility and I don't want his family to go away with the thought that it was something that Moritz did that causes his death."
Erhardt's father, Hans-Georg Dieterle, told the inquest his son did not complain to his parents about his working hours, but they noticed that he sometimes worked through the night from the time his emails were sent — sometimes at 5 or 6 a.m.
Juergen Schroeder, who worked with Erhardt at the bank, acknowledged that most interns worked long hours, but it was difficult to know exactly what hours the student was working. He also said Erhardt had not told anyone at work about having a medical condition.
The bank said in a statement that it had intended to offer Erhardt a full-time position after graduation and described his death as a tragedy. It said in August it has launched a review of its working conditions, especially for its junior staff.