Short-sellers are setting their sights on Scott Sacane, the hedge fund manager who gained notoriety last year by
"inadvertently" amassing big stakes in small health care companies.
In an unusual move, Texas short-seller Hal Collier is suing Sacane, claiming he lost an unspecified sum of money because of Sacane's belated disclosure that his
Durus Capital Management
hedge fund had acquired a 77% stake in
, a small medical-device manufacturer.
Collier contends he never would have placed a bet that Aksys' stock would fall in price if he had known of Sacane's large purchases. The short-seller contends he took a bath on the stock because of Sacane's alleged deception.
The lawsuit, filed in Connecticut federal court, seeks class-action status on behalf of other short-sellers who placed bets that shares of Aksys would tumble. The lawsuit also names Durus and Aksys as defendants.
Lee Squitieri, the lawyer representing Collier, says it's the first time he's ever brought a lawsuit on behalf of short-sellers. But he says the claims are "meritorious," in light of Sacane's actions.
A spokesman for Sacane could not be reached for comment.
The novel litigation is the latest twist in the yearlong Durus saga.
After Sacane's belated admission, Durus was sued by Aksys and two other companies the hedge fund had acquired big stakes in:
( ALTH). The companies sought to recover short-term profits Durus made trading their stocks under a little-known securities regulation that applies to large shareholders. Durus ultimately settled those lawsuits, returning $86 million to those companies, including a $48.7 million payout to Aksys.
But it wasn't all bad news for Durus. Sacane's irregular trading activities also
produced an enormous payday for the hedge fund when
announced last December it was buying Esperion in a $1.3 billion transaction. The deal valued Durus' then-30% stake in Esperion at $350 million, a $130 million gain for the hedge fund.