Is a Threatening Letter from a Hedge Fund Manager to a Seed Investor Admissible in Litigation between the Manager and the Investor as Evidence of the Manager’s Breach of Fiduciary Duty?

Hedge fund manager Paige Capital Management, LLC (Fund), had a dispute with seed investor Lerner Master Fund, LLC (Lerner), over Lerner’s demand to withdraw its entire investment.  The Fund’s attorney wrote a letter to Lerner “reminding” Lerner of the potential costs of litigation over Lerner’s withdrawal rights and advising Lerner that, if it did not drop its withdrawal demand, the Fund would invest Lerner’s funds in “high risk, long-term, illiquid, activist securities” and spare no expense in defending the Fund.  This litigation ensued and the Fund sought to block Lerner from introducing the letter as evidence of breach of fiduciary duty by the Fund, claiming that the letter was protected both as a settlement communication and by the privilege for allegedly defamatory statements made in the course of litigation.  We summarize the decision.

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