by Structured Settlement Watchdog
A number of structured settlement professionals and settlement planners make statements that they are "plaintiff exclusive" in their advertising and solicitation of insurance products, including structured annuities. Others use terms such "plaintiff loyal" or "plaintiff focused". I want to focus on the reasons why some firms use absolutes such as "plaintiff exclusive" or "plaintiff only" and these other terms in their efforts to advertise and solicit their services which often results in the sale of an insurance product? For the purpose of this post, I include written, oral and digital/online in this advertising and solicitation discussion.
This author believes that while it is advantageous to the plaintiff and the plaintiff attorney to have representation to level the playing field in structured settlement transactions, the settlement professional should be engaged based on his/her qualities rather than the marketing gimmick created by use of absolutes. Read on to find out why.
Clearly a faulty perception has been built, through the aggressive marketing of some, that the plaintiff and/or plaintiff attorney is better represented, in a structured settlement transaction, by someone who does not take any business from defendants or insurers (even those not involved in your transaction).
Is there always an advantage in working with someone who uses the absolute of "only" or "exclusive"? NO. The fact is that most of the brightest minds the industry DO NOT use absolutes. Should you engage a settlement professional who is purportedly "plaintiff exclusive" with 4-6 years of experience or, is it worth considering someone with a balanced practice, who is centrist, with 10,15 or 20+ years of industry experience and wisdom? If you are a plaintiff attorney or injury victim, you SHOULD NOT be swayed by the absolute alone.
The issue of trust is built up in any relationship over time and experience. Thus, there is no other logical reason to use the absolute of "exclusive" unless the structured settlement professional or settlement planner using it wanted to capture business at the expense of competitors. So you say " what's wrong with that?" Read on...
What's wrong, in my opinion, is when someone or some entity has used an absolute and THEN it is later revealed that it or its representative has made another statement, also obviously intended to capture business at the expense of others, that is mutually exclusive to the absolute statement (i.e both statements cannot be true). Even more egregious is if the two mutually exclusive statements were concealed from the parties to whom the mutually exclusive statements were made, to get business from attorneys and victims at the expense of others who are qualified. Read on...
The Colorado Insurance Statutes (3CCR 702-4 Amended Reg. 4-1-2 Section 4E effective 1/1/2007) define an insurance producer as "a person required to be licensed under the laws of this state to sell, solicit or negotiate insurance."
The Colorado Insurance Statutes (3CCR 702-4 Amended Reg. 4-1-2 Section 5A effective 1/1/2007) state
"Advertising shall be truthful and not misleading in fact or by implication. The form and content of an advertisement of a policy shall be sufficiently clear so as to avoid deception. Whether an advertisement has the capacity or tendency to deceive shall be determined by the Commissioner of Insurance from the overall impression that the advertising may be reasonably expected to create upon a person of average education or intelligence with the segment of population to which it is directed."
Section 6-1-105(u) of The Colorado Consumer Protection Act, states that it is a violation if there is "failure to disclose material information concerning goods, services, or property which information was known at the time of the advertisement or sale if such failure to disclose such information was intended to induce the consumer to enter into a transaction"
Section 6-1-105(ww) of The Colorado Consumer Protection Act states that evidence that a person has engaged in a deceptive trade practice shall be prima facie evidence of intent to injure competitors and to destroy or substantially lower competition.
Section 6-106 (1) of The Colorado Consumer Protection Act exempts "conduct in compliance with the orders or rules of, or a statute administered by a federal, state or local government agency."
According to the agent look up on the Colorado Division of Insurance website, both John S. Bat, John T. Bair and Forge Consulting, LLC are licensed as insurance producers in Colorado. The site does not appear to show any record for an insurance license for High Impact Structures, LLC, although the entity is registered with the Colorado Secretary of State, and according to its website, is affiliated with the Delta Group of Settlement Companies.
According to their firm's websites both individuals are principals in their respective structured settlement firms.
According to evidence Download high_impact.pdf, High Impact, LLC advertises that it only works on behalf of the plaintiff. This blog contains ongoing commentary of similar claims made by Forge Consulting, LLC and its principals***.
According to the evidence obtained from the website of the United States Department of Justice Civil Division, John S. Bat and John T. Bair appear on Download se...of_annuity_brokers_121906.pdf . To appear on the list the broker must sign this Download Annuity_Broker_Declaration.pdf under the federal perjury statute. Note #6 on the declaration. This author has previously obtained and posted copies of two declarations signed by Bair and others signed by certain Forge Consulting principals. The purpose of the declaration is to create a list of annuity brokers who meet minimum standards to represent the United States in structured settlement transactions)
It seems to me from the evidence that the continued use of absolutes, like "plaintiff exclusive" and "only works on behalf of the plaintiff", as of today, April 28, 2007, by Forge Consulting, LLC and High Impact Structures, LLC respectively, is an unfair trade practice used to gain a competitive advantage. Furthermore, the issue of the mutually exclusive statements made by principals of both entities, under the Federal Perjury statute, to the United States Department of Justice, appears to (a) be material and (b) to be "known at the time of the advertisement or sale if such failure to disclose such information was intended to induce the consumer** to enter into a transaction".
**(in this case the plaintiff attorney for structuring his/her attorney fees with an annuity or the injury victim to structure part of his/her settlement with an annuity OR, purchase other regulated financial products)
***Ironically, the statement by High Impact Structures, LLC that it only works on behalf of the plaintiff, if true, would be yet another refute of the "only plaintiff exclusive company in the country" statement made in a solicitation by Forge Consulting, LLC in writing, to Rhode Island Trial Lawyers on 2/21/2007.