by John Darer CLU ChFC CSSC
Despite express language in the declaration to be made under penalty of perjury that they have done substantial defense work in each of the preceding 3 years, members of several claimed "plaintiff only" or "plaintiff exclusive" firms have signed the declarations to get on the United States Department of Justice published list of annuity brokers who meet its minimum qualifications. The purpose of the list is to identify to United States attorneys who they can select to represent the United States where it is a defendant or respondent.
So it was a bit of a laugh when Patrick Hindert ("Hindenberg") posted the other day:
"Does the DOJ's existing structured settlement program support or violate public policy?" "Hindenberg" apparently believes this question represents a fundamental political and business issue for all structured settlement stakeholders. He also states that Congress is currently investigating the DOJ and should include this issue within the scope of its ongoing investigation. He opines that all structured settlement stakeholders should separately address and highlight this issue as part of a broader industry discussion of business standards and practices. Now this IS a Pandora's box and it's already open.
In June 2006 Structured Settlements 4Real fired a warning on the subject. Nobody can say they have not been warned. It's over a year later!
SS4R has reported that a number of annuity brokers affiliated with so-called "plaintiff exclusive" firms have made mutually exclusive declarations, under federal penalty for perjury, to the United States Department of Justice, namely that they have provided substantial services to Defendants or their counsel in each of the last 3 years prior to the date of the Declaration. Some have removed themselves from the list.
John T. Bair (2005 and 2006), H.H. Spooner Phillips, IV (2005) , Charles Schell (2005)
John S. Bat (2006)
Fiery plaintiff advocate Richard B. Risk, Jr. (2004) and his son Robert Risk, II (2004 and 2005)
Leslie Marsh (2007) is on the most recent USDOJ list but appears on Settlement Professionals, Inc. website which states that the firm is plaintiff exclusive. Which is true?... his declaration ? or, the firm's marketing materials?
Same thing goes for James L. Street (2006 and 2007), Paul Kristynyk (2006 and 2007) and Todd Morrow (2007)
Brokers need to pay attention to possible inconsistencies on their firm's marketing and documents they sign. Similarly firms need to know what their brokers are doing as they could be found to be falsely advertising. One plaintiff only broker I spoke to was frustrated about the USDOJ policy so he sent in a declaration to get on the list. Fortunately he had the sense to call me after reading about our February expose on the Forge Consulting principals declarations and, shortly thereafter, retracted his declaration.
If you make a choice beware that the Federal perjury statute carries an up to 5 year jail sentence! Take it seriously for the sake of yourself, your family and your business.