CHICAGO (Reuters) – When the high-end property development Lake Las Vegas collapsed during the 2008 financial crisis, 31 funds that helped finance the project lost a total of $540 million. But only one of them, Dallas-based hedge fund Highland Capital Management, aggressively pursued legal action against Credit Suisse Group AG, which arranged the financing and appraisals for the project.
Highland ultimately convinced a Texas court that Credit Suisse had breached its contract and aided and abetted fraud in the deal, and the decision was upheld on appeal. Now, Credit Suisse faces a July 18 court deadline to pay Highland $360 million or appeal to the Texas Supreme Court.
The victories to date have enhanced the reputation of a fledgling Texas law firm, and legal experts say they are likely to encourage other investment funds to take big banks to court.
“This case shows the big banks can’t hide behind disclaimers when they know certain facts,” said Carol Gilden, a lawyer who represents pension funds and other institutional investors in financial and securities disputes.