Lawyer says Goldman failed speech software "geniuses"

Mon Dec 10, 2012 3:10pm EST
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By Tim McLaughlin

BOSTON (Reuters) - Goldman Sachs bankers failed to raise red flags about Lernout & Hauspie's accounting irregularities more than a decade ago, costing speech recognition software pioneers at Dragon Systems nearly all of their life's work and about $600 million, a lawyer told a jury on Monday in federal court.

"They were relying on Goldman to take care of them and whether or not they should be worried about these questions," plaintiffs' lawyer Alan Cotler said in his opening statement.

He kicked off what is expected to be a two-month courtroom battle in U.S. District Court in Boston.

The trial pits Janet and James Baker, a suburban Boston husband-and-wife team that launched Dragon from the living room of their home with $30,000, against Goldman Sachs, the iconic Wall Street bank whose reputation has been tarnished in more recent years on allegations it has treated some clients shabbily.

In the case brought by the Bakers, Goldman Sachs Group Inc denies civil claims that include gross negligence and breach of fiduciary duty. Opening statements from Goldman's legal team could come later on Monday or early Tuesday when the trial resumes.

In 2000, just months after Belgium-based Lernout & Hauspie acquired Dragon for $580 million in an all-stock deal, the company collapsed in an accounting scandal that sent it reeling into bankruptcy.

The Bakers owned 51 percent of Dragon, but only sold a few million dollars worth of their stock because of restrictions, Cotler told a jury. He added that the couple later received a $70 million settlement from a group of companies that advised Lernout & Hauspie in the transaction with Dragon.

The Bakers and two other early Dragon employees are seeking at least several hundred million dollars in damages.   Continued...

A Goldman Sachs sign is seen over their kiosk on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, April 26, 2010. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid