Peter Thiel & Y Combinator fund a "litigation financing" startup to make money off other peoples' lawsuits


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/08/25/peter-thiel-y-combinator-fun.html


#2

Clearly, the problem is regulation; if there were no laws, then this disruptive new company would not need to exist.


#3

Perhaps the source of the problem needs to be dealt with. Kill the corporate beast.


#4

Corporations aren’t the problem. The EFF, for example, is a corporation.

No, the problem is greed and how that motivates abusive use of useful tools (like litigation financing).


#5

I see this idea, and the problems with the class-action system, as symptoms of ineffective enforcement of consumer-protection laws.

In an ideal world, when deep-pocketed companies take advantage of ordinary consumers, the democratically-accountable government would step in and enforce the laws.

But that’s not what happens today (and to be fair, it never really has worked this way). In a few really egregious situations you can sometimes get state AG’s to actually bring consumer protection cases to court. Unless it affects millions of registered voters, the Attorneys General usually aren’t interested.

So instead we have this system of private litigation bounty-hunters, looking for situations where they can score a big payday and if it happens to discourage bad behavior that’s a nice side-effect but not really the point.

Do I have a better solution? No. But it seems there should be some way for an ordinary consumer to get a fair hearing for a small dispute with a big company without it becoming (literally) a federal case.


#6

I do. Let’s kill and eat the Billionaires (and the occasional thousandaire like trump).


#7

For years, legislatures have essentially outsourced enforcement mechanisms for things like the ADA to private lawyers. Instead of “fix this problem our inspectors have found or face increasingly tough fines”, it’s “fix this problem before a lawyer sues you over it.”

(This, incidentally, is how Fred Phelps made his living.)


#8

So if some deep pocketed asshole sued you out of business using proxies will this service identify the culprit and help you sue them back for a share of the proceeds? Asking for someone I otherwise despise.


#9

some douches just want to watch the world burn…


#10

The logic used to find this a bad thing is odd. Let’s see:

It’s unarguable that the modern justice system is flawed – your ability to sue, defend, or be well represented in court is extremely dependent on the amount of money you have. This is a flaw in the system.

And we have organizations like the EFF and the ACLU that will support people in court. This is seen as a very good thing.

But this post seems to imply that at least in some cases the flaw is a good thing, and the patch through organizations like the EFF is undesirable. Gawker should have survived, due to Bollea being unable to afford a lawsuit against a large, well-represented company. This post seems to be saying it’s unfair that Bollea got external help – he should have won or lost not on legal merits, but on economical ones.

And so it seems something doesn’t quite fit here and smells of hypocrisy. The stance seems to be: third parties supporting a plaintiff are good, except when I like the other side. Then it’s bad. Or is the problem that Thiel is involved? This seems to imply money is not fungible – that Thiel’s money is somehow different, and that the source of funding somehow matters regarding whether a lawsuit is just or not. I do not buy either of those arguments, and would to hear why I should change my mind on that.

Whatever problems you have with Thiel, this would be far less harmful than him going out on his own. A billionaire can fund whatever they please without needing to expect to make a profit. A company however will be profit driven and so will tend to back people who have a good cause, and avoid cases that are clearly frivolous.


#11

He already destroyed Gawker. Is his thirst for blood not slaked?


#12

Is it just me, or is Thiel rapidly becoming some sort of Bond villain?

edit: Alternately, some sort of day-walking vampire.


#13

Perhaps we can hope for a Bond villain’s amusing end? Which film was it where Roger Moore’s Bond dropped Blofeld down a smokestack?


#14

I like the cut of your jib.


#15

#16

[quote=“doctorow, post:1, topic:84133”]
Thiel Fellow Eva Shang … legally wronged by deep-pocketed aggressors
[/quote]So, day one it fights itself and vanishes in a Ouroborosian blink?

I’d watch that.


#17

I am curious as to how their algorithm assesses the merits of a claim. And how many actual lawyers were involved in writing it…


#18

He thirsts for younger blood than Gawker. You can’t really get your Bathory on with shriveled old prunes like those Gawker guys.


#19

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why the libertarian fantasy of government limited to a few courthouses was and is complete bullshit.


#20

Suppose you piss off a cop in your town, so he follows you around all the time looking for something to book you for.
He’s just doing his job, right?