Litigation funding as a tool for catalyzing criminal justice change

Legalist CEO Eva Shang issues statement calling on the legal community to prioritize taking on change-catalyzing legal cases.

Eva Shang
July 1, 2020

On Memorial Day, a police officer in Minneapolis killed George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, whose death has touched off the largest round of protests the country has seen in decades, as well as demonstrations around the world. As the country grapples with the senseless murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and too many others, communities of color have renewed their calls to address police brutality, discrimination, and systemic racism that burdens Black and Latino communities.

Since 2013, the Black Lives Matter movement has made police violence a pressing national and local issue. Attorneys, litigation funders, and the legal community must similarly prioritize the work of taking on change-catalyzing legal cases. In 2018, I issued a public ask in Forbes for cases challenging police abuses. Since the inception of its first fund in 2017, Legalist has prioritized funding for cases challenging police brutality, prison conditions and practices, and workplace discrimination. Today, the list includes cases as follows:

John Doe 1 v. City 1

Police brutality

An off-duty police officer fired his service weapon and caused Plaintiff to suffer permanent brain damage. The police department had continuously covered up the officer’s extensive history of misconduct allegations, and the case resulted in one of the largest-ever police misconduct verdicts in the city’s history.

John Doe 2 v. City 1

Wrongful conviction

As a result of a false confession extracted by torture by the city’s police department, Plaintiff spent thirty years in prison for a crime he did not commit. A court of appeal vacated his conviction based on his credible allegations of torture.

Jane Doe 1 v. City 2

Workplace discrimination

Plaintiff, a Black female police officer -- the first Black police officer ever to be employed by City 2 -- was subjected to a hostile and discriminatory environment based on her race and gender.

John Doe 3 v. City 3

Wrongful conviction

A combination of mistaken eyewitness identification, perjury, police and prosecutorial misconduct led to Plaintiff spending twenty-three years in prison for a crime he did not commit. After his exoneration, this civil case was brought by a nonprofit organization whose mission is to free wrongfully convicted Americans.

John Doe 4 v. Prison Health System

Prison conditions

Despite multiple requests for medical attention, prison officials ignored obvious signs of Plaintiff’s cancer, causing his condition to become terminal. Plaintiff has since received a jury award of over $10 million.

Throughout American history, lawsuits have served as a vehicle for change. Legalist is committed to supporting cases that will bring us closer to the world we’d like to see. I welcome and encourage all attorneys and plaintiffs working on cases actively supporting #BLM to contact us at cases@legalist.com. We won’t stop until the work is done.

About Legalist

Legalist is an algorithmic litigation finance firm that helps small businesses pay for their lawsuits. Founded in San Francisco, Legalist uses machine learning and AI technology to source and underwrite litigation investments. The company manages assets over $110 million and has been featured in the New Yorker, the Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and more. www.legalist.com

The above statement is published with the disclaimers outlined on this page.