On January 19, 2012, the Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson filed a complaint in U.S. District Court against Accretive Health, a debt collection company hired by many medical institutions with the task of collecting on past-due payments by its patients. The complaint, which you can read here (note: the complaint has since been amended), alleged Accretive Health violated, among other things, federal patient privacy laws (“HIPPA”) and state debt collection regulations.
After filing the complaint, Swanson’s office issued a press release on the matter.
Three months later, the lawsuit made the front page of the New York Times newspaper. The Times story, which was later redistributed by other news outlets, caused Accretive Health to go into damage mode. The company issued statement after statement regarding a three-month-old court case that, until last Tuesday, had gone largely unnoticed (it’s worth noting Accretive Health’s website offers no statement on the court case before April 29; on Monday, the company filed a motion to dismiss the claim against it).
As you can see from this chart showing Accretive Health’s stock price over the past six months, the company was hardly impacted by the lawsuit in January, but lost over 50 percent of its stock value after the Times article ran last Tuesday.
You can draw your own conclusion as to how the media impacts the market.