Industries from insulation to nursing homes have been crippled or rescued by landmark court rulings on insurance claims.
I asked Philadelphia insurance lawyer Randy Maniloff of White & Williams L.L.P. where Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan fits on the scale from bleeding-heart policyholder advocate to asset-conserving claims denier. Evidence is thin, he says:
In Kagan's congressional questionnaires, she mentioned a lone insurance case in which "she got a nice ruling for the policyholder."
In a three-year-old obituary for Harvard scholar and judge Robert Keeton, author of what Maniloff calls the "tremendously pro-policyholder" Reasonable
Expectations Doctrine, Kagan praised Keeton as "a great teacher, scholar and judge" and "pioneer in insurance and tort law."
Then again, says Maniloff, "nobody says anything bad" in an alumni obit.
"Other than that, her insurance experience is probably limited to her homeowners and auto policies," Maniloff concludes. Which is all he'd expect from a scholar: Insurance "doesn't attract ivy tower egghead types" who "don't work in the real world."
Not home alone
Michael Hagan pumped up the ad budget to boost sales when he ran Horsham-based diet-food distributor NutriSystem Inc. He's trying a similar push in the wireless home-alarm business.
Hagan says he's raised $10 million with investor Mike Bolton's Novitas fund and David Berkman's Associated Group since taking over in December as chief executive at LifeShield Security, which he's moved to Yardley from Berwyn.
He plans a NutriSystem-style multimedia ad campaign, using spokesmen like ex-NFL quarterback Dan Marino, who signed up to pitch Hagan's diet food after they met golfing near their South Carolina vacation homes.
Hagan's predecessor, engineer Lou Stilp, founded LifeShield in 2004 as InGrid Home Security. Stilp hoped to sell alarms through Verizon or Comcast. "Didn't work," he told me. He runs LifeShield's Wayne operations center.
LifeShield claims wireless is cheaper and more effective than wire-based alarm systems like those installed by industry leader ADT, an arm of Tyco International, the conglomerate run by Hagan's Yardley neighbor, Ed Breen.
"You don't need to pay $1,000 so a crew can drill holes in your walls to run wires around your house," Hagan says. "You need systems you can read from your iPhone or your laptop computer," to warn of fires or intruders, and "cameras to check on your daughter when she comes home from school, or make sure your son isn't opening the liquor cabinet."
LifeShield calls itself the all-wireless pioneer. But Tyco spokeswoman Ann Lindstrom says her company has marketed its "ADT Safewatch QuickConnect digital system" since 2007 at competitive prices. ADT does its own alarm monitoring; LifeShield contracts with Guardian Protection Services, Pittsburgh.
Hagan claims 5,000 U.S. customers; "we're planning for 10,000" by year's end as the ads start running.
Swiss-based Lonza Group Ltd., a $3 billion drug developer and manufacturer, says it's bought Moda Technology Partners, a West Conshohocken maker of pharmaceutical compliance software. People familiar with the deal said Lonza paid more than $10 million. The partners planned a party at Fleming's steakhouse in Radnor Monday night.
Lonza's Rapid Testing Solutions unit, Walkerville, Md., has used Moda systems to track development and manufacturing since 2007, unit head Doug Danne said in a statement.
GE Healthcare and Pfizer are also Moda clients, said David Lipson, a founding Moda investor. He said the firm's original investors from 2006 made "about two and a half times their money" in the sale. "This was a strategic fit," he told me, and not a sign the deal market is coming back to life.
Moda employs 12, including cofounders Steven Melick and Michael Goetter and boss Mike Desiderio.
Besides Lipson, Moda backers include Rob Adams and his firm NextStage Capital, of Audubon, and Bob Adelson and his firm, Osage Ventures, Bala Cynwyd. Investment bankers were Fairmount Partners' Charles Robins and Dick Thatcher, with help from lawyer Michael Harrington of Fox Rothschild.