AN OPEN LETTER TO THE STRUCTURED SETTLEMENT INDUSTRY
I am exercising my rights under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution because I care about the structured settlement industry. My message to those of you who don't like what I have to say is "then why don't YOU exercise yours"? While I naturally wish this was unnecessary, I am exercising my First Amendment rights because NONE of the structured settlement industry or settlement planning industry trade associations have an adequate enforcement mechanism. Speak to the Board of Directors of NSSTA ( I have spoken to an Executive) and I'm quite confident they will readily admit it.
The lack of enforcement mechanism hurts the credibility of each of our members when we have bylaws and a statement of ethics that stand for alot in theory, but effectively mean VERY little in the reality. This has led to apathy and, if it isn't corrected fast, it will accelerate our industry down the path of structured settlement necrosis.
I know I am not the only voice, BUT...
- Consider that before I exercised my rights under the First Amendment there were a number of NSSTA members and some SSP members who voluntarily declared "under penalty of perjury" a certain mutually exclusive statement as consideration to the United States Department of Justice to get on its approved list.
- Consider that before I exercised my rights under the First Amendment, NSSTA member Forge Consulting, LLC was advertising to attorneys that it could get an "equivocated guaranteed rate of approximately 15%", that it was a "partner" of various life companies, was advertising "no cost QSFs, was advertising that it was a "structured annuity buyer", was stating on sales solicitation letters that Presidential candidate, John Edwards gave him the highest professional recommendation when he couldn't have possibly done structured settlement business with Forge, stating that it was the only plaintiff exclusive company in the country, placing an ad in the Ohio Trial Lawyers directory featuring a non Ohio licensed individual, was even more heavily advertising the amount of contributions made to TLAS(see Forge Consulting Issues-right of this page)
- Consider that before I exercised my rights under the First Amendment, how many people in the industry would be aware of the depth and breadth of NSSTA member Patrick Hindert's promotion of factoring? Where is that permitted in the NSSTA bylaws?
- Consider that before I exercised my rights under the First Amendment, the amount of spam weblogs (splogs) that existed drowned our industry's message.
- Consider that before I exercised my rights under the First Amendment, the initial interest confusion caused by factoring company advertising was far worse.
- Consider that before I exercised my rights under the First Amendment, NSSTA and SSP members incorrectly informed people that IRC 5891 made factoring legal. One NSSTA and SSP members also incorrectly informed a group of trial lawyers that IRC 5891 allows people to change their structured settlement payments
- Consider that before I exercised my rights under the First Amendment , that the SSP had numerous factoring companies as members/patrons, attending their annual meetings and included factoring provisions in their initially proposed 2007 statement of ethics. Current SSP President Anthony Alfieri gets it.
- Consider that before I exercised my rights under the First Amendment, who in the structured settlement industry even knew about blog comment spam and its effect in associating structured settlements with a host of unrelated products?
- Consider that before I sought opinions from the New York State Insurance Department and THEN exercised my rights under the First Amendment, who in the structured settlement industry would have known that (1) paying the expenses of a QSF was illegal in New York and several states (survey not completed yet)? (2) that advertising the amount of contributions made to a trial lawyer association was illegal in New York? (3) that paying/sharing commissions to a life agent not appointed by the annuity issuer was illegal in New York but OK, if to a life broker?
- Consider that before I exercised my rights under the First Amendment, you had certain firms over generalizing the nature and extent of rebating in structured settlement transactions.
These issues are not about one person-they are about whether the desire of an industry is to move forward, or move backwards.
A number of you have exercised your First Amendment rights to discuss alleged rebating schemes, approved lists and other items you perceive to be unfair, particularly citing the "duty of loyalty to the tort victim". Some of you have even participated in or encouraged lawsuits on these subjects. On the subject at hand, why not exercise your First Amendment rights, in an informed way, to justify your taking undisclosed fees on structured settlement factoring transactions and/or omitting that such fees are fully negotiable (i.e. taking advantage of tort victims), or an agency demanding and/or receiving an override, on structured settlement factoring referral payments/commissions made to your "independent contractors" or employees, so that every tort victim and every trial lawyer in America, that YOU have solicited, can see, be informed and then pass judgment on you "on the merits"?
What has held you back? What are you...CHICKEN?
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances" United States Constitution
"John, This first Amendment rights thing is bullshit" Dave Snyder, President of Delta Group, member National Structured Settlement Trade Association, December 6, 2007
"When it (whistleblowing) helps the general public it has a whole new patina on it" Larry Cohen, Director Northeast Operations, Ringler Associates, Inc. in podcast on Whisleblower/Qui Tam on Ringler Radio/Legal Talk Network