Early Briefing: Want to Buy a Lawsuit?

Adam Shapiro, left, president; John Ryan, president of structured settlements; and David Lewis, general counsel, at Stone Street's Bethesda headquarters. (By Sarah L. Voisin -- The Washington Post)

*A Bethesda-based firm is entering a high-stakes business in which it buys a portion of the rights to civil lawsuits before the victim has even collected a dime.

Stone Street Capital's high-risk play can pay off big if it successfully bets on fat court settlements. But it can backfire if it advances money for a lawsuit that gets reversed or never pays. In that case, the plaintiff keeps the advance and Stone Street gets nothing.
Some consumer advocates say the practice, known as "advance funding of verdicts," may be sound but question the terms of the payments.

*Chris McGill hopes his McLean start-up, Mixx, will change the way Web surfers access news.

Mixx, launched in October, aims to let users filter through all the online clutter and get the specific sort of fresh content they want. Users submit interesting items they've spotted online, vote on the news they like and post their comments.

It's similar to a formula established by other "social news" sites already out there -- Digg and Reddit, to name two of the most popular. But McGill is hoping to make Mixx will stand apart from the competition with a few innovations and unique offerings, such as its array of customizable features.


*Patricia McGinnis plans to leave her jobs as president and chief executive of the Council for Excellence in Government after 14 years as the group's leader, writes Stephen Barr in his Federal Diary.

The transition at the council will come in a year when the nation selects a new president, setting off a transition in the government, and at a time when the federal workforce is undergoing a generational transition as baby boomers retire and agencies try to recruit from the millennial generation.

*A new regional alliance of higher education, government and business leaders plans to host a summit in the District tomorrow aimed at boosting funding for research, encouraging entrepreneurship and breaking down barriers that prevent innovative ideas and technologies from getting to market.

The new Chesapeake Crescent Innovation Alliance is an offshoot of the Chesapeake Crescent Initiative, , designed to boost the region's economic and environmental vitality by bringing together area leaders.

*Barack Obama has admitted that he's hooked on Honest Tea. The revelation doesn't threaten to derail his 'presidential hopes, but it illustrates the lengths a presidential candidate's staff will go to to act as enablers. The matter is particularly noteworthy because it was not always easy to get organic products where Obama campaigned -- in, say, Jackson, Miss.

*Chicago's Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. and McLean candy giant Mars gave anyone interested in their $23 billion merger something to chew on last week.

Wrigley filed a preliminary proxy with the Securities and Exchange Commission revealing some terms of the proposed deal, including some in-house estimates of projected sales. But the famously private Mars revealed little.

By Terri Rupar  |  June 2, 2008; 5:00 AM ET  | Category:  Morning Brief
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