The firm of Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht has been at the center of a bevy of litigation funding drama. The major players along with Pierce Bainbridge are Pravati Capital, Virage Capital Management and now a newly formed firm Hecht Partners. A Philly lawyer recently amended his complaint against Pierce Bainbridge, Pravati, firm founder John Pierce related to the “So Called Billion Case.” In addition, at a federal court hearing last week, commentary by Hecht thrust Pierce Bainbridge and Hecht Partners back into the litigation funding spotlight.
The deveopments may well leave observers wondering what funder would be willing to take a bet on either of the two firms.
Contributing to those questions is a bar graph attached to the Philly lawyer’s amended complaint. It shows apparent dates and amounts of funding Pravati provided to Pierce Bainbridge and provides a rare look at the details of typically mysterious and private funding relationships.
A Look Inside Pravati Capital Funding to Pierce Bainbridge
A sharp jump occurs after the April 2018, presumably this is related to the $1,000,000,00.00 case.
The story is that Pierce Bainbridge allegedly provided a memo to litigation funder Pravati Capital on May 6, 2018, saying a case against Microsoft involving the Gears of War video game had “prospective damages of $1 Billion.” The case ended up getting tossed with $0 recovered; the firm has appealed.
The Philly lawyer handled the Gears of War case prior to Pierce Bainbridge and told the client to settle for less than $900,000. The lawyer says Pierce Bainbridge knew this before it told Pravati a prospective value at least $999,100,000 higher.
Pravati eventually declared a $9.1 million default. Ex-Pierce Bainbridge partners from Armstrong Teasedale, BraunHagey & Borden, Hecht Partners and Withers Bergman show up on UCC filings as individually backing that debt, which was eventually cleared.
Just how the $9.1 million was cleared remains unclear. Some say it was wiped out by litigation funder Virage Capital; however, a former Pierce Bainbridge client has made the alarming allegation that it related to his “strong reason to believe that Mr. Pierce and his firm Pierce Bainbridge accepted bribes from individuals with criminal backgrounds.”
Virage Enters The Litigation Funding Fray
On the heels of the $9.1 million default, in came Virage. Pierce Bainbridge has reportedly amassed an “estimated $65 million debt” to the Texas-based litigation funder in just one year. It remains puzzling that Virage provided such a massive amount given the lack of meaningful litigation success for the embattled firm.
However, the peculiarities do not stop there. Former name partner David Hecht started his own firm Hecht Partners. Of the 8-attorney firm, at least 7 of them worked at Pierce Bainbridge, including former named-partner Maxim Price and Hecht’s wife Kinza; as well as partners Kathryn Lee Boyd, Janine Cohen and Conor McDonough. The group brings experience from law firms: Quinn Emanuel, McKool Smith, Ropes & Gray, Steptoe Johnson, and Paul Weiss. Oddly however, there is no mention of either Pierce Bainbridge or Hecht Partners on Kinza’s LinkedIn.
Similarly, Hecht has removed Pierce Bainbridge from his LinkedIn, and a recent Hecht Partners press release, does not mention Pierce Bainbridge, presumably to avoid any overt connection the alums had to Pierce Bainbridge.
Notwithstanding Hecht’s seeming efforts to conceal his Pierce Bainbridge past, during a hearing last week Hecht said while he was no longer a partner, he is still working with Pierce Bainbridge.
Hecht also dropped a bombshell announcing that “they secured funding” and it’s a “large development.”
Hecht is an individual defendant in at least two lawsuits involving allegations of financial malfeasance, and Pierce Bainbridge – where he was a named-partner — has faced a variety of serious accusations and is now a defendant in at least six lawsuits.
In addition, the sentiments expressed about Hecht have not been pretty.
Mike Masnick of Techdirt.com said Hecht was involved in a “laughable” complaint and should be “embarrassed.”
The same partner referred to Hecht as “like a cult member” to Team John Pierce.
Hecht has taken criticism for a LinkedIn post about a federal judge’s decision regarding alleged ethic violations, which resulted in an experienced Harvard Law School educated attorney calling Hecht’s post “childish” and admonishing Hecht to “Grow up.”
Hecht’s funding announcement immediately sparked questions as to what funder would risk sinking good money into a new firm made up of mostly Pierce Bainbridge attorneys or, if Hecht Partners is not the “they,” good money into the embattled and debt-ridden Pierce Bainbridge.
It remains unclear as to whom the “they” whom Hecht referenced may be.
The ongoing funding drama involving Pierce Bainbridge, Hecht Partners, Pravati Capital, Virage Capital $65 Million Debt, and Big Funding News ensure the unfolding legal and litigation drama drama continues. We will continue to monitor the developments still to come.
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