Recently, the state of North Carolina has been in the news because of its’ old sterilization program. The elected officials are working on legislation to finally pay the victims and their families for this horrible program. The North Carolina Sterilization Program is what the state instituted in the 1920s that labeled the “undesirables” and people deemed unworthy or unnecessary to be sterilized, so they wouldn’t be able to have children.
The system went on for about five decades with many people and families affected. In a case like that, if the families decided to sue the state over their sterilization program, it would take years for the courts to work through it and another set of years for payment to be distributed if the plaintiffs win. Fighting that kind of case takes money and patience, especially when the case involves very sensitive topics and could lead to a very big payout.
This type of case is one where legal funding can help bridge the gap between the time of the lawsuit being filed and the actual receipt of payment. Many question legal funding and its use in the legal world. They point to the slippery slope argument on what its affect would be on the wider legal world if it becomes popular.
There are many misconceptions about lawsuit funding, some of which include it does not adequately help the plaintiff, the rates are extremely high, and it can lead to runaway litigation. These accusations about the sector are untrue because in many cases, it has helped plaintiffs, and their attorneys often have a better chance against well-funded defense teams.
In cases against big corporations and states, it is legal funding that can help even the odds so at the very least the plaintiffs can obtain a fair settlement or win the case. Cases against big defendants like Enron, BP Oil, or the State of North Carolina take money that the average plaintiff and their attorney don’t have.
Furthermore, since the recession hit in 2008, more people and businesses are facing economic hardship which can limit the kinds of things they can do, especially law firms. Many times in cases like a John Doe v. North Carolina, the attorney will take the case pro-bono. But even then it costs money to go back and forth to court, research the case, and find witnesses to testify.
There are many benefits to legal funding, but the biggest might be its ability to level the playing field. A state like North Carolina knows it can potentially beat plaintiffs or force them into a settlement that might not benefit the plaintiffs. Legal funding gives the plaintiffs the ability to hold out for a better offer because it alleviates the pressure on plaintiffs and plaintiff’s attorneys if they are facing a financial crunch.
Written by Lulaine Compere.