Former Ga. AG sees problem with lawsuit-financing

John O'Brien Oct. 26, 2011, 9:00am


WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - Former Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker said Wednesday that integrity of America's courts is in danger because of companies that specialize in funding litigation.

Baker made the comment at the 12th annual Legal Reform Summit, which is put on by the Institute for Legal Reform. The ILR is an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and owns Legal Newsline.

Baker said that companies only seeking the maximum profit might not have the best interests of claimants in mind.

"I've never seen what I consider a greater threat to the judicial system we have in place than what I have seen in (alternative litigation financing) and third-party funding of litigation around the country," Baker said.

Baker, a Democrat, was Georgia's attorney general from 1997-2011. He unsuccessfully ran for governor last year and Sam Olens took his spot in the Attorney General's Office.

Baker said state attorneys general are "immensely concerned" with third-party financing and noted Colorado Attorney General John Suthers' challenge to a litigation funder that argued it was not subject to the state's lending laws.

A Denver court disagreed in September, Baker said, and ruled that the company was subject to lending laws.

"We're going to see these debates and these challenges throughout the country in the months to come," he said.

Baker says third-party funders may help plaintiffs gain access to courts but do little else to help them find justice. The quest for a maximum profit, he says, might actually hurt the plaintiffs.

Baker is now a partner at McKenna Long & Aldridge.

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