Kaylee Zhu is co-Founder of laWow.org, a lawsuit search engine. Views are the author’s own.
Getting sued is a company’s worst nightmare. Litigation isn’t a problem just because it consumes a lot of time and adds to executive stress. It’s expensive. Billable hours for top outside counsel can exceed $500 per hour, and each lawsuit can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
But lawsuits happen, and it’s important for those with an interest in a company to have proper visibility into cases it’s been involved in.
Rise in litigation
Litigation is rising for a number of reasons, depending on the industry you operate in.
For example, employee discrimination lawsuits are increasingly common. In 2018, it was alleged only 6% of Edward Jones’ financial advisors were non-white, lagging well behind the national average of 21%.
In 2020, M&T Bank faced a disability discrimination lawsuit after one of the company’s branch managers needed to take time off for surgery on a pregnancy-related disability. The employee was discharged because of the disability and her previous record of disability. M&T Bank was ordered to pay $100,000 in lost wages and compensatory damages to the manager.
Discrimination can also take place with customers as opposed to employees. This past April, Wells Fargo Bank found itself in a lawsuit for discriminatory residential mortgage policies and lending practices against its minority customers. The plaintiffs were seeking $5 million in damages, according to the lawsuit.
Access to lawsuits
Each of these cases stems from litigation that carries the potential to impact anyone who has an interest in a company’s bottom line. To put the power of transparency into your own hands, it’s possible today to leverage the Internet to give yourself the ability to research court case filings on every company.
Known as lawsuit search engines, these resources are specifically designed to search words or phrases and find results based on a crowdsourced algorithm. These platforms serve as a news source for anyone seeking information about a company’s litigation history without commentary, based on facts only. Unlike standard search engines, these resources do not include outside opinions from analysts, bloggers and other parties that might have an interest that may or may not align with others’ interests.
This type of information-based platform is also proving beneficial for class action markets and group proceedings.
Today’s penchant for litigating environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues through the securities class action format is a good example. Many interested parties view participation in settlement opportunities as a means to execute on their ESG missions, in addition to recovering significant monetary awards.
More broadly, anyone who understands the need to have access to raw files of information, whether for due diligence or other reasons, can see the utility of such a lawsuit search engine.