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Balancing Risk and Reward in Litigation Finance: Lessons from High-Profile Case

By John Freund |

The following is a contributed piece by Jeff Manley, Chief Operating Officer of Armadillo Litigation Funding.

The allure of substantial returns from mass tort litigation has historically tempted law firms and their third-party financiers to commit resources to speculative cases. While investing strongly in speculative torts certainly has its time and place, prevailing trends highlight the necessity of certain risk management practices. The unpredictable outcomes of high-profile cases, like the Camp LeJeune water contamination lawsuits, accentuate the imperative for a discerning approach to case selection and the strategic diversification of portfolios.

Balancing Opportunity and Prudence in Speculative Torts

Early-stage speculative torts like the Zantac litigation represent a blend of potential and caution. (In re Zantac (Ranitidine) Products Liability Litigation, 2021). Initially, Zantac cases drew significant attention from law firms with projections of substantial compensation figures. However, the legal complexities and subsequent valuation adjustments highlighted the disparity between initial projections and actual compensation figures realized, reinforcing the need for meticulous risk assessment in speculative torts. While similar cases have captivated law firms and financiers with their substantial projections, they also underscore the importance of an exhaustive risk assessment—demonstrating how initial excitement must be tempered with diligent legal analysis and realistic valuation adjustments.

Navigating the Complex Terrain of Camp Lejeune Litigation

The Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits represent promising ventures for financiers and mass tort firms to affirm their moral duty by advocating for those who served our country. However, these cases also carry lessons on the pitfalls of overzealous investment without careful scrutiny. The drawn-out nature of the litigation serves as a reminder that while the pursuit of justice is noble, it must be balanced with sound risk management to ensure long term firm stability.

Endurance in Talc Litigation: A Testament to Long-Term Vision

The protracted legal battles surrounding talcum powder’s health risks underscore the necessity for long-term strategic planning in mass tort litigation. Firms must factor in the operational demands and the financial foresight to manage compounded interest on borrowed capital over extensive periods. Simultaneously, it’s critical to sustain investment in new torts, ensuring a balanced portfolio that accommodates both ongoing cases and emerging opportunities. This balanced approach underpins the stamina needed to endure through a decade-long commitment, as exemplified by the talc litigation.

Understanding Returns in the 3M Earplug Litigation

The 3M earplug litigation concluded within a standard timeframe, yet the distribution of settlements spans several years, offering more modest financial returns than many anticipated. This outcome serves as a pragmatic reminder of the nuanced nature of mass tort settlements, where significant payouts are not always immediate or as substantial as predicted. Nonetheless, this reinforces the value of prudent risk management strategies that account for longer payout terms, ensuring a stable financial forecast and the firm’s resilience in the face of lower-than-expected returns.

Strategic Portfolio Diversification

Given these varied experiences, it is imperative that law firm owners and financial backers craft a robust case portfolio strategy. By balancing the mix of cases from speculative to those with a more established settlement trajectory, firms can better manage risk and ensure operational stability. Strategic diversification is not just wise—it’s a vital tactic to maintain resilience in the evolving landscape of the mass tort industry.

The Value of Expert Financial Partnerships

Choosing a reputable and experienced litigation finance partner is essential for law firms aiming to effectively balance their case portfolios. A seasoned funding partner provides invaluable guidance in evaluating potential cases, assessing financial risks, and optimizing investment strategies. Their expertise in navigating the nuanced terrain of litigation finance is a critical asset.

Adopting a balanced portfolio strategy—carefully curated to include a variety of torts at different development stages—provides a more stable foundation than pursuing an “all-in” strategy on a single high-potential tort. This method not only reduces dependency on the success of any single case but also positions the firm more favorably in the eyes of prudent lenders.

Recent high-profile cases in the mass tort arena, like those mentioned above, serve as potent reminders of the inherent uncertainties in litigation finance. For law firm owners and their financial backers, the path forward demands a nuanced view of risk, underscored by strategic portfolio diversification and the cultivation of partnerships with experienced financing entities. By adopting these principles, stakeholders can safeguard their investments against the capricious nature of mass litigation, securing a resilient and prosperous future in the challenging yet rewarding domain of legal finance.

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Latam Advisors Director says Argentina’s President Should Negotiate a Deal for $16B YPF Judgement

By Harry Moran |

One of last year’s biggest stories of the legal funding world was the $16 billion judgement in the Argentina YPF case, standing out as a significant win for litigation funder Burford Capital. However, the pressing question since this judgement has been how Argentina’s government would deal with this mammoth sum, especially since Burford Capital has continued to demonstrate its commitment to judgement enforcement and foreign asset recovery.

An article in the Buenos Aires Times, which analyses the current state of Argentinian President Javier Milei’s government, offers a small but interesting insight into the direction that Argentina’s leader could choose to take in regards to the $16 billion judgement in the YPF case. The article highlights recent comments from Sebastián Maril, director of Latam Advisors, who suggested that the Argentine government could attempt to negotiate a deal to end the dispute with Burford Capital over the $16 billion sum, with payments made over time in return for a lower total amount paid.

Maril argues that “Argentina should start viewing international legal proceedings as assets and not liabilities”, and that the government should seek to build relationships with these companies so that “beneficiaries of foreign judgments should understand that, by helping the Republic they’ll be helping themselves.” Maril places the YPF judgement in the context of a wider pattern of Argentina already having to pay out ‘US$16.35 billion in closed and settled legal judgements since 2000’, with an additional $10.245 billion in open judgements beyond the YPF settlement.

SdK Offers Litigation Finance to Enforce Claims for Additional Payment for Former Shareholders of STADA Arzneimittel AG

By Harry Moran |

Former shareholders of STADA Arzneimittel AG who tendered their Stada shares as part of the takeover offer by Nidda Healthcare Holding AG in August or September 2017 are entitled to an additional payment of €8.15 per share. This was decided by the Federal Court of Justice in May 2023. Since Nidda Healthcare Holding AG refuses to make a voluntary additional payment to all former STADA shareholders, SdK Schutzgemeinschaft der Kapitalanleger e.V. is offering litigation financing for a legal claim without any cost risk to the affected former STADA shareholders.

On July 19, 2017, Nidda Healthcare Holding AG, a joint venture of the international financial investors Bain Capital and Cinven Partners, submitted a voluntary public takeover offer to the shareholders of STADA Arzneimittel AG to acquire their shares at a price of € 66.25 per share. Within the acceptance period (until the end of August 16, 2017), the bidder’s offer was accepted by 63.76 % of STADA shareholders and within a further acceptance period (until September 1, 2017) by a further 0.11 % of STADA shareholders. The bidder thus achieved a tender volume, including shares held by STADA, of approx. 63.87 % of STADA’s share capital and voting rights. 

On August 30, 2017, a shareholder holding 8,265,142 shares (13.26 % of the shares and voting rights) agreed to a domination and profit and loss transfer agreement between Nidda Healthcare and STADA if the amount of the compensation under the domination and profit and loss transfer agreement is at least EUR 74.40 per STADA share. Several former shareholders of STADA, who had accepted the lower takeover offer, filed a lawsuit against the bidder demanding the difference between the offer price and the compensation under the domination and profit and loss transfer agreement of EUR 74.40. 

In two identical judgments dated 23 May 2023 (case no. II ZR 219/21 and II ZR 220/21), the German Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ruled in favor of two plaintiffs pursuant to sections 31 (5) and (6) WpÜG, referring to the principles of the so-called Celesio case law. In principle, all former shareholders of Stada AG who had initially exchanged their regular shares for the securities tendered for sale with ISIN DE000A2GS5A4 or for securities subsequently tendered for sale with ISIN DE000A2GS5B2 and had subsequently tendered these in the takeover offer are entitled for the payment of the difference. 

Following a request of the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority („BaFin“), the Bidder published a corresponding notice in the Federal Gazette, but pointed out that, in its view, any payment claims by former shareholders could be based on the defense of the statute of limitations. In the opinion of the Bidder, the statute of limitations generally began at the latest at the end of 2017. However, this is incorrect. The claims of the former shareholders of STADA are not yet time-barred: This is because after the courts of the 1st and 2nd instance had still rejected the claim for subsequent payment, only the BGH confirmed this claim for additional payment. The claim for additional payment is therefore not yet time-barred.

The SdK is offering affected former STADA shareholders legal cost financing to enforce their claims for additional payment. The claims can thus be enforced without any cost risk. The SdK, as the financier of the legal costs, assumes all costs of the legal proceedings in return for a profit participation of 30% of the proceeds in the event of success. For more information please contact us at info@sdk.org.The SdK will be happy to answer any questions from its affected members by e-mail at info@sdk.org or by telephone on +49 89 / 2020846-0.

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Apple Asks Delaware Court to Force Omni Bridgeway to Answer Subpoena

By Harry Moran |

The fight over disclosure and transparency around third-party funding of patent infringement litigation continues to generate high-profile cases, as one of the world’s largest technology corporations is asking a court to force a litigation funder to respond to its subpoena.

Reporting by Bloomberg Law provides an overview of a recent filing from Apple Inc., which sees the technology giant file a motion to compel compliance with a subpoena for Omni Bridgeway. Apple is asking the US District Court for the District of Delaware to force the litigation funder to answer a December 2023 subpoena, seeking information about Omni Bridgeway’s involvement in a California patent infringement suit. The original patent lawsuit was brought by MPH Technologies Oy in 2018, claiming that Apple had infringed on its patents with Apple’s iMessage and FaceTime products.

The filing of the motion to compel compliance has come after Apple says that several discussions have taken place between lawyers for the company and Omni Bridgeway, but none of these conversations have resulted in the litigation funder being willing to disclose the requested information. In a declaration in support of the motion, Hannah Cannom, an attorney at Walker Stevens Cannom who represents Apple in the patent infringement case, confirmed that the funder “has not produced any responsive documents to the Amended Subpoena nor offered any witness for a deposition.”

A letter from Omni Bridgeway, that was included as an exhibit for another declaration by one of Apple’s lawyers, shows that the funder objected to the subpoena and asserted 20 separate objections to the request. In the summary of its objections, Omni Bridgeway’s counsel stated that “the subpoena does not coherently state what information it seeks; why the information sought by the subpoena is discoverable in the underlying litigation; and why information requested by the subpoena cannot be obtained directly from a party to the underlying action.”

Neither representatives from Apple nor Omni did not respond to Bloomberg Law’s requests for comment.