“The dubious business of investing in mass torts”

“Elite personal-injury lawyers tell stories about having been pursued by litigation financiers offering tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars to buy a piece of their mass torts dockets.” But for unwary investors it can be a shark-eat-shark world. Nor is it free of hazards for plaintiff’s counsel, even when sophisticated: “AkinMears, the Texas plaintiffs’ firm that allegedly spent $45 million to acquire a huge docket of mesh cases last summer, subsequently told me and my reporting partner Jessica Dye that it was unaware some of those cases had originated at offshore call centers. The firm also told us that an unexpected significant percentage of clients opted not to proceed or not to use AkinMears as counsel when their cases were transferred.” [Alison Frankel, Reuters]


  • It’s just disgusting.

  • It appears it is past time to bring back the legal prohibition on Champertry – with a limited exception for contingent fee arrangements.

    But since Congress consists largely of lawyers, the class who stands to benefit from a free market in encouraging other peoples’ litigation at the expense of the rest of us, it will never happen…

  • Timothy, why is this really different than a contingency fee arrangement? If a complex case requires a multi-million dollar investment in order for a plaintiff’s attorney to take it on, why would it be wrong to have an outside investor if the cost required was beyond the ability of even a large law firm to advance with no guarantee of success?

  • Because the real party in interest will now be an entity which has not suffered any harm…it does not seek to redress any legal wrong, nevertheless it will control the plaintiff’s side of the litigation (he who pays the piper, etc.,). And, unlike the client’s attorney, the investor has no interest in maintaining professionalism or collegiality in the proceedings. This will override the attorney.

    Imagine , let’s say, Bernie Madoff, or John Gotti, funding your client’s case, thru a shell investor company…sound OK to you?

  • Gotti would cure any witness appearance issues – for AND against.