by Larry Bodine
National Trial Lawyers Blog
A plaintiff may sell a portion of their judgment on appeal and an attorney may sell a portion of their fee lien earned from winning the case at trial.
After a jury makes an award in a personal injury case, a financial ordeal often begins for the plaintiff and possibly the lawyer as the case goes up on appeal. For cash-strapped plaintiffs, an appeal could mean two years or more before the appeal is heard and a final decision is rendered.
In the meantime, bills for the plaintiff and the contingency fee attorney continue to mount. Plaintiffs have often exhausted their emotional and monetary resources during the trial phase. For contingency fee attorneys, an appeal may mean years before any revenue is realized. And then there is the risk of losing.
Fortunately, funding is available for plaintiffs and attorneys with a money judgment on appeal to finance a plaintiff’s medical bills or survival costs and to fund the lawyer’s practice.
This funding has long been available in tort cases, and now is available for business clients as well — and can even be built into alternative fee arrangements, according to Michael Blum, attorney and CEO of Appeal Funding Partners, LLC.
“Appeal Funding Partners provides plaintiffs and trial attorneys with immediate cash before the appellate decision is reached, free from risk if the case is ultimately lost. The money can be used any way the plaintiff or trial attorney wishes. They can pay daily living or medical expenses, get out of debt, pay overhead, or grow their practice or business. Or they can use the funds to hire an appellate attorney, pay college tuition, or put the money in the bank to be saved,” Blum said.
For businesses with cases on appeal, the funding can be integrated into an alternative fee structure or as a mechanism for a client to raise cash to pay appellate legal fees, run their business or pay other expenses. Blum is a pioneer in litigation funding. He started investing in appeals over 20 years ago and has been involved in hundreds of appeals, investing amounts ranging from $100,000 to over $1 million.
How appeal funding works
Appeal Funding cash advances are completely ethical. The Fund makes a minority, non-controlling investment in the money judgment on appeal. It is a passive investor, which does not offer legal advice and does not interfere in the attorney-client relationship. It does not dictate when to settle or how much a settlement should be, and it does not seek access to privileged information.
A plaintiff may sell a portion of their judgment on appeal and an attorney may sell a portion of their fee lien earned from winning the case at trial. Appeal Funding recovers the share of the proceeds it purchased from the party to whom the Appeal Funding advance was made.
Appeal Funding is not a loan. There is no interest charged, no monthly payments, no mortgage liens, no wages liens, nor liens on anyone’s bank accounts. Creditworthiness is irrelevant.
“We actually purchase a minority interest in a share of a money judgment on appeal. We are not paid until the case is ultimately resolved in your favor. You pay with the money you get from the defendant. If the case is eventually lost, and you do not recover, we are not paid and we lose our investment,” Blum explained.
A Word of Caution
The terms of an appeal financing transaction vary greatly from company to company, so it is in the plaintiff’s best interest not to base their decision on price alone. Research the experience and reputation of the company. Get references from reputable sources and talk to attorneys who have sold portions of their interests or advised clients who have sold portions of their judgments on appeal.
As Justice Lewis F. Powell said, “As the costs and delays of civil litigation increase, the ideal of equal justice is unfulfilled. All too often…the party with the greater financial resources…prevails by exhausting the resources for the weaker opponent. Persons or businesses of comparatively limited means settle…and relinquish claims simply because they cannot afford to litigate.” — from Joseph R. Biden, Jr.’s law review article, Equal, Accessible, Affordable Justice Under Law.
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