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If you have ever heard someone say, “They went after him because he has deep pockets,” you might have wondered what the reference means. To put it simply, it means that the person in question has a great deal of money or resources. When referring to a company or other entity, the phrase "deep pockets" once again refers to wealth or assets.
When seeking damages in a lawsuit, it is an individual or company with deep pockets that will be targeted. Often times, the richest person or entity will be chosen, because there is a good possibility of arriving at a settlement in order to avoid bad press. If the sum seems minor to a wealthy person or business, they are much more likely to give in to a settlement to avoid the nuisance and publicity of going to court.
The object of a lawsuit is generally to get as much money as possible, so even if one company has greater guilt in the matter, the one with deep pockets will still be the target. Sometimes, the monetary figure isn’t as much about greed as it is about making a statement. Someone with a cause can garner a large amount of publicity for the cause by winning a huge settlement.
As noted, "deep pockets" is slang for wealth but it can also be used in many ways. For example, the phrase deep pockets may also be used to describe a “mark” or someone wealthy who might be taken advantage of in a scheme. In other cases, the phrase might also be used to describe wealthy investors. If someone is looking for an investor, he or she is obviously going to be interested in finding one with deep pockets.
The phrase began as a way to describe someone who is better able to absorb risk than others are. The idea of reaching into someone’s pocket or letting him foot the bill for a risky venture led to the terminology becoming popular. While still used today, the phrase "deep pockets" is not used as frequently as it once was for various reasons.
Some feel that "deep pockets" is a tacky reference while others assume it’s use has decreased because there is much greater wealth and far more wealthy people and entities today. Great wealth is not uncommon these days and the idea of going after the wealthiest individual or company in order to achieve the largest settlement is a frequently used concept.