by Structured Settlement Watchdog
Deadline day in the Matter of Honor structured settlement transparency initiative is upon us.
In a month letters will be going out to state trial lawyer association and the American Association for Justice along with a white paper explaining the issues, the project and the 3 lists, one of which WILL INCLUDE YOUR NAME.
One of your competitors has made a special request for an extension to the deadline so that the topic may be fully discussed at the firm's annual meeting. That request has been granted and one purpose of this post is to make any other firm aware, in good faith, that any reasonable written request to this author for a short extension of time will be considered in the same manner.
It has come to this author's attention today that a certain NSSTA member hopes to thwart the structured settlement transparency initiative by threatening to sue for tortuous interference. That's analogous to if Plaxico Burress attempted to sue the gun manufacturer for losses due to his suspension from the Giants, due to his decision to pack heat in his pants and shoot himself with it.
Let's face it:
- The Matter of Honor Project has been out there for over a year.
- It is clear that factoring business practices are looked at with a jaundiced eye by trial lawyers.
- The subject matter of the project is clearly in the interest of the structured settlement stakeholders involved in the decision to offer or accept structured settlements.
- The undisclosed structured settlement broker practices reflect poorly on the industry and undermine confidence. In some cases, it could very well lead to suits by defendants or insurers for breach of confidentiality clauses where damages are sought to be recovered from tort victims, their attorneys or those settlement consultants with privity to the confidentiality agreement.
- Recognizing that these are not the only serious issues, I believe that the 3 points in the Declaration address certain serious issues in our industry that have long needed to be addressed. As is evident by the business leaders who have already executed declarations other industry colleagues share my belief.
- Everyone has been given a reasonable opportunity to make a declaration to either be on the structured settlement clean vendor list or, to make a public declaration of their factoring services (if any) and practices concerning annuitant lists and documentation on your website. If you are not engaging in any of the practices then why not make a New Year's resolution and support a grass roots effort to clean up the industry?
- Your decision to make a declaration is your own. If you are one of the structured settlement broker (who have participated or are currently receiving kickbacks from factoring companies, you have the opportunity to voluntarily change this practice by stopping the practice immediately. As is expressly stated therein, the declaration is effective as of the date you sign.
- If having had the opportunity you voluntarily do not declare, your name will be placed on a list that simply and factually recites the names of those individuals who are in the industry who did not declare either way. That list will look substantially like this.
- As the disclaimer states, your inclusion on such list DOES NOT automatically mean you have a "Scarlet letter" and are engaging in the questioned business practices, but lawyers will be educated on the practices as the result of the structured settlement transparency initiative, and will be encouraged to ask you about YOUR position, only because you have not declared. They will then be in a position to make an independent evaluation about how your answers to those questions fit into the mix of THEIR decision about who they will let be involved in their client's recovery. In essence a decision would be based on YOUR answers NOT that you are on a list that relates as fact that you are in the structured settlement industry.
Do those who feel the need to rattle a sabre realize that it is THEIR action that begs the obvious question?