The place where a lawsuit is heard can often have a significant impact on the outcome. A federal judge in Texas, in a little noticed order, has moved the venue of a class action against the Stanford Group to the U. S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana. An examination of the potential effect of this order reveals the importance of the place a business law trial takes place.
The case involves the Stanford Group and the Ponzi scheme it used to rob investors of an estimated $1 billion. The founder of the firm was convicted of fraud and is now serving a life sentence in federal prison.
About 900 investors in the firm live in Baton Rouge. They are part of a group that invested their retirement savings in fraudulent certificates of deposit that were sold to them by a Stanford subsidiary in Baton Rouge. The group lost approximately $250 million, but they could recover more if their claim for additional damages is honored. They are alleging that the defendant SEI Investments Company, a subsidiary of Stanford, misrepresented the value of their investments on monthly statements.
The lawsuit will now be heard by a federal judge in Baton Rouge, and all pre-trial motions and other matters will be decided by either that judge or by a federal magistrate judge in Baton Rouge. Discovery disputes and other motions will all take place in the federal courthouse in Baton Rouge, thereby reducing the expenses that must be borne by the plaintiffs.