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SoloSuit launches a web app to to help US users respond to debt lawsuits

Online service SoloSuit wants to help Americans who are being sued for a debt fight back using automated tools. The company, which is launching its service nationwide today at TechCrunch Disrupt Startup Battlefield, guides users through preparing a response to their lawsuit, optionally having a consumer protection attorney look over the entire document on their behalf, then handing the printing and court filing.

The idea for SoloSuit came from founder, George Simons, who had bought a car during his first year of law school and struggled to find an attorney who would help him out. That prompted the realization that there are likely millions of people across the U.S. who also can’t find attorneys to take cases for a variety of reasons. For example, they may struggle if there isn’t enough money in the case to make it worth an attorney’s while, or if the attorney they want is too busy to get on the phone, he suggests.

The area of focus SoloSuit landed on, however, was debt lawsuits. Every year, 10 million Americans get sued for debt and 9 million automatically lose because they aren’t able to figure out how to respond to those lawsuits, Simons claims. These debts could include medical debt, credit cards, auto loans, student loans, or any other unsecured debts. After a debt collector is unable to collect from the consumer, they may choose to sue for that debt instead.

With the SoloSuit web app, users can respond to these lawsuits in about 15 minutes, the startup says.

The way the process works is that when someone receives a complaint and summons in the mail, they’ll usually only have 14-30 days to respond, depending on the state, before they automatically lose their case. Often, customers will Google for information about what to do next, which is where they’ll find SoloSuit’s free online guides. These will also refer the potential customers to the web service. Here, the web app, which was demoed at Disrupt, will guide the customer through creating the response to the lawsuit and optionally pay to have an attorney review it.

Customers can either pay $15 to have the response printed and filed on their behalf, or $115 to have an attorney review it before filing.

The startup spun out of the Brigham Young University LawX legal design lab, where it was originally founded by a team of students. Simons ended up taking the reins and the other students have moved on. Currently, he is the sole founder but is expecting to hire a technical co-founder soon.

Since SoloSuit’s founding a couple of years ago, it has seen 3,000 Utah-based customers who have been sued for a combined total of $11 million in debt lawsuits. The startup believes they’ve helped around 50% of those cases get dismissed.

Today, the service will launch across all 50 U.S. states and will add the attorney review feature.

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Force Majeure In The Time Of Coronavirus

COVID-19, commonly known as coronavirus, is causing an epidemic of respiratory illness in more than 60 countries. With the mandatory quarantines and the closure of many businesses, including manufacturing facilities and suppliers, the impact on the supply chains and operations will be enormous in the short term. With no end to …

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For An Emerging Class Of Lawyer Kings, Litigation Is A Cash Cow

Just weeks after U.S. District Judge Dan Aaron Polster convened the first hearing to discuss thousands of opioid lawsuits concentrated in his Ohio court, he announced who would lead the plaintiffs’ team.

It was hardly a surprise. Like most judges in charge of multidistrict litigation, Judge Polster selected from a small group of lawyers who control the game. Leading the list was Joe Rice of the South Carolina law firm Motley Rice, famous for his role in negotiating a $260 billion global settlement with the tobacco industry in the late 1990s. He was joined by Elizabeth Cabraser of Lieff Cabraser, a San Francisco firm also involved in the tobacco settlement; Baron & Budd, a famously pugnacious Dallas asbestos law firm; and Chris Seeger, a New York lawyer who played a lead role in a concussion settlement with the NFL criticized for underpaying players and overpaying their attorneys.

With their position secure at the top of the pecking order in the opioid MDL, these lawyers are assured of winning billions of dollars in legal fees if the cases settle, on top of the $14 billion many of them shared from the tobacco settlement. The money will come, as always, from the companies they sue—and, ultimately, from the consumers who buy their products and services.

This litigation tax is an increasingly predictable supply of cash enriching an increasingly entrenched class of lawyer-kings who have figured out how to turn the U.S. court system into a money-making machine. Civil trials are supposed to be high-risk affairs. But the combination of mass advertising to drum up clients and recruiting government entities as plaintiffs has driven much of the risk out of this business.

Many of the same lawyers leading the opioid litigation are investing hundreds of millions of dollars in television ads to recruit plaintiffs to sue over common products like Johnson’s Baby Powder and Roundup weed killer. Even the federal judge overseeing Roundup litigation said some of the plaintiff experts strayed into “junk science,” and the evidence in the talc lawsuits consists mostly of contested testing on samples from unsealed old bottles plaintiff lawyers say they purchased on eBay. But with tens of thousands of plaintiffs at their command, those lawyers almost certainly will extract lucrative settlements in both cases.

This shock-and-awe approach to litigation is especially effective when government is the client. Plaintiff lawyers who were heavy campaign contributors to Oklahoma’s Republican Attorney General Mike Hunter collected $70 million in fees from opioid settlements before J&J decided to take the state’s case against it to trial. It seemed like a good gamble: J&J never had more than about 2 percent market share in Oklahoma, and its two products were particularly abuse-resistant. No matter: A state judge socked the company with a $465 million penalty. If upheld on appeal, the state’s outside lawyers will collect another $90 million in fees.

Perhaps this feeding frenzy will be self-limiting. The same public-nuisance theory plaintiff lawyers are using to sue over opioids is perfectly suited for alcohol and cell phones, both of which can be directly traced to countless vehicle crashes. Maybe when consumers realize they are paying a small king’s tax to lawyers every time they buy a beer or make a call, they will rebel. More likely, they’ll call the number on their TV screen and see if they, too, have a claim.