Thursday, June 4, 2009

Beat the Market, Buy a Lawsuit?

Here's an interesting NYT piece on funds that invest in lawsuits (typically expensive, potentially lucrative commercial litigation/intellectual property actions).  Before deciding to invest in a lawsuit, the funds seek the input of outside attorneys on the merits of the case.

The article quotes law professor Anthony J. Sebok regarding "potentially tricky legal questions" raised by the use of outside money to finance litigation, but it does not address the questions that popped to our minds:

How does this practice square with the old common law prohibition against champerty and maintenance (still illegal in some jurisdictions)?

What about conflicts of interest?  Do these outside lawyers run conflicts checks before they agree to opine on a case?

Presumably, everyone involved signs a confidentiality/nondisclosure agreement; still, doesn't sharing information about legal strategy with an outsider raise questions about whether the attorney-client privilege or the work product protection has been waived?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Sunshine May Be the Best Disinfectant, but Secrecy Promotes Settlement

Yesterday, the Boston Globe reported that Bausch & Lomb has settled 600 lawsuits (to the tune of $250 million or so to date) arising out of fungal infections that contact lens wearers allegedly contracted from using ReNu with MoistureLoc in 2006.

Redorbit reports that the company went private in 2007, so that it could pursue its  "growth path . . . without . . . outside distraction" (and, we surmise, handle the contact lens disinfectant recall and subsequent settlement of the personal injury lawsuits with minimal public attention). has more coverage here.  

And, now, excuse us as we take out our contacts because our eyes are suddenly inexplicably itchy.