Richard Halpern's email regarding the Patrick Hindert's "Structured Settlement Credo" 1-5 and "The Holy Grail" said:
You have already called me and interviewed me after Patrick Hindert published his "Structured Settlement Credo - 3" wherein he misquoted and mischaracterized an article that I recently had published in the "North Carolina Lawyers Weekly". In said blog he further characterized me as being "bad person" apparently for being "no friend of structured settlement annuities".
You have contacted me again the week before last to ask if I had any comment concerning Mr. Hindert's further attack on me in his blog entitled "Structured Settlement Credo - 5". At that time I told you that I had not read it and I do have time to not read such dribble and would get back to you at a later time when I did have time to read his blog. Upon reading it, I concluded that I couldn't care less what he has to say about me but I was surprised about his obsessive, Gestapo tactics and myopic attitudes. Therefore, I spent additional time reading all five of his blogs on the subject.
Regardless of what Mr. Hindert may say about me, I wish him no harm. I do not (as you quoted me in your prior blog) believe that I have any right to deprive him of his right to freedom of speech.
Structured Settlements at best may be considered an industry. In reality, they are a very small subset of another subset of a huge industry. The huge industry is the life insurance industry. The large subset of the life insurance industry could be referred to as the annuity industry. Structured Settlements are merely a subset of the annuity industry. Another way to view this would be that this is different way to sell annuities. I am not stating this in any way to disparage this process - I am only stating this to clarify the positioning of this process.
Throughout his blogs on the subject Mr. Hindert has highlighted the word "credo" as a link. When one clicks on the link they are taken to the website known as "Wikipedia". They are specifically taken to the following definition from Wikipedia:
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For other uses, see Credo (disambiguation).
The credo (Latin for "I Believe"; pronounced [ˈkɾeːd̪oː]) is a statement of religious belief, such as the Apostles' Creed (or, less often, another creed, such as the Nicene Creed). It especially refers to the use of the creed in the Catholic Mass, either as text, Gregorian chant, or other musical settings of the mass.
Is Mr. Hindert trying to analogize this industry to a religion? Does he consider himself a deity endowed with the power to pass judgment on us lowly human beings? He clearly seems to believe he has the right to judge good versus bad as concerns this industry which he is analogizing to a religion per his own blog and the link contained therein. Is this consistent with the principles of a Democratic Republic? Is this consistent with the Constitution of the United States of America? I, for one, think not.
In his "Structured Settlement Credo - 3" Mr. Hindert makes the following statement:
“Good People and Bad People - We (the traditional structured settlement industry) believe the structured settlement world consists of Good People and Bad People.”
He further goes on to say:
“…People who don't endorse our credo are either:
Bad People; or
Misinformed People; or
Injury victims and their attorneys may or may not be Good People - depending upon whether they support traditional structured settlement credo. …”
- The concept of "original sin" is fundamental to traditional structured settlement credo.
- We believe injury victims are unreliable - Bad People but potentially Good People.
- Why? Because, without us (Good People), injury victims "squander" their personal injury settlements.
- Even some of our strongest critics (Bad People) agree with this fundamental (Good People) structured settlement credo (i.e. the "squandering" injury victim). …”
As a citizen who believes in his country, its Constitution and the principles upon which it was founded, I believe (as I have stated many times) in Mr. Hindert's right to freedom of speech. I further believe that he has the right to his own belief system whether or not I, or any other citizen, agree with him. Frankly, I don't give a damn whether he thinks that I am a good person or bad person. I don't really care what he says or thinks or writes about me at all. I will leave it up to the plaintiff bar and all of the injured people in the country to determine how they feel about his statements and how those statements may reflect on the industry he purports to be the spokesman (perhaps Messiah?) thereof. In the absence of a published repudiation of his comments by the NSSTA, one would assume that he is truly speaking for the industry.
In his blog post entitled "Structured Settlement Credo - 4" he states:
“… The structured settlement industry represents and protects all viewpoints and interests on legislative and regulatory issues. …"
This would seem to indicate a belief on his part that the industry should protect the viewpoints of bad people. This is difficult to reconcile with reading the totality of his five blogs to date.
In the same post he continues:
“… "Cash outs, whenever they occur, are bad for injury victims.
People who promote or participate in "cash outs" are Bad People. …"
In other words, any plaintiff or plaintiff attorney who disagrees with Mr. Hindert and elects a cash settlement so that they may place the funds in vehicles other than annuities such as a "United States Treasury Bond Structured Settlement Trust" designed in such a way that it is funded with Inflation Indexed Treasury Bonds wherein the plaintiff has a security interest in said bonds and is fully protected from the travesties that occurred with Treasury Bond Structured Settlements in the 1970s and 1980s; elects to place their recovery in a trust such as a "Delaware Asset Protection Trust"; or decides to place their recovery in any other type of arrangement with a low risk and low volatility investments inside of a spendthrift protective vehicle would be a "bad person".
It would be hard to find any true financial professionals who would agree with Mr. Hindert's position but that does not change the fact that he is still entitled to his opinion.
You contacted me last week about Mr. Hindert's "Structured Settlement Credo - 5" wherein he is once again launching some form of attack against me personally. Obviously, I have now read all five of his blogs on this subject. Anything further that I quote in this e-mail will be from this blog number five.
"… Richard Halpern's recently announced discovery of the Holy Grail of structured settlement dissipation studies … presents a conundrum for the traditional industry. …"
Just to set the record straight since Mr. Hindert does not seem to pay much attention to facts or reality, I didn't just announce a discovery of said dissipation study nor did I refer to it as the "Holy Grail" of anything. Indeed, when I entered this industry in 1982 the industry itself (which included Mr. Hindert) was not only quoting but focusing on the importance of protecting plaintiffs from squandering their recoveries. This was being touted to the plaintiff bar as the most important reason to enter into a structured settlement in the first place. The industry only stopped touting this when the after market factoring companies began to flourish and took this benefit of annuity-based structured settlements away. He also seems to imply that I recently discovered a "study" that I cited in said article. He sarcastically characterized (or should I say intentionally mischaracterized) my reference to this as discovering the "Holy Grail". The fact of the matter is that I never cited any study as a recent discovery or ancient discovery but in fact merely attributed a statistic to a law book in which it appeared. Sometime during the second half of the 1990s, the National Structured Settlements Trade Association (an organization of which Mr. Hindert is a past president and has held several other important positions) published a booklet entitled "What Is a Structured Settlement?". Said publication refers to the exact same dissipation problem and cites the exact same law book as did I. I consider it commendable of them to have shed light on this problem and only wish that they continued to do so. Most plaintiff trial attorneys in the United States of America know the truth of the situation and will probably find Mr. Hindert's recent blogs as cited herein to be offensive and yet another reason to look at other settlement alternatives as opposed to structured settlements.
I always believed that there was a likelihood that the statistic was approximately correct but had never seen any documentation thereof. That didn't stop me from continuing to look for valid, published information. I personally never found any until I found the 1992 publication of the law book that we have been citing. To date we still have not cited a study we have merely cited a publication. In May, 2009 The Halpern Group will mark its 27th anniversary in serving the needs of injured people (tort victims). Collectively the members of The Halpern Group have worked on over 20,000 cases involving injured people. From 1982 until 1990 we sold annuity-based structured settlements. We then began looking for better vehicles and found that if we wanted them we would have to create them. At this point, our personal experience with tort victims creates a database and information that would exceed the scope of any dissipation study performed to date.
Some of our plaintiffs who had annuity-based structured settlements have been able to squander their recoveries by selling their income streams to the aftermarket annuity buyers or factoring companies. The five-year dissipation rate of our clientele from 1992 (the year we began doing structured settlement and other forms of Recovery Management trusts) has been under 2/10 of 1%. I do not believe that Mr. Hindert has the data or experience behind the data that we do to back up his statements or opinions. Nonetheless, I repeat that he is still entitled to his opinion and he still has the benefit of freedom of speech.
He further states:
“… Are cash settlement dollars spent for food, clothing, shelter, medical expenses, education, etc. "legitimate" or "squandered"? …"
Since this question is in the section of his blog relevant to me I must question whether Mr. Hindert fails to do any research before he writes his blog or just believes that because he says something it is therefore religious dogma and must be true. So once again I will provide him with the correct answer. The only inflexible financial solution that we offer would be the one subject to the structured settlement industry's "Holy Grail" known as Section 130 of the IRC. That would be our United States Treasury Bond Structured Settlement Trust which has been approved by both the IRS and Congress. While this is attracting a great deal of attention right now, in the current economic meltdown, because of its safety and the fact that we use Inflation Indexed Treasury Bonds (the radical expansion of the money supply currently $8.5 trillion of already authorized bailouts and the soon-to-be authorized Obama stimulus package which is estimated at $1 trillion to $1.4 trillion is likely to cause severe inflation somewhere down the road), it is only provided with one of our pour over trusts for flexibility and the rest of our financial solutions are all flexible and all provide for food, clothing, shelter, medical expenses, education and much, much more. At the same time however they stop plaintiffs from making big financial mistakes. They also adjust to future inflation and have provisions for changing the income stream as the plaintiff’s needs change.
In light of the above paragraph, we at The Halpern Group are damn proud to be considered "bad people" by Mr. Hindert for failing to lock our clients into fixed income investments such as single premium immediate annuities that cannot change as the world changes or the plaintiff’s needs change in the future.
Mr. Hindert also classifies all Certified Financial Planners and Trust Officers as "bad people". As I read beyond this point in his "Structured Settlement Credo - 5" I just find it more and more unbelievable that in this day and age anybody, in any field of endeavor, could possibly be publishing the statements that are appearing in Mr. Hindert's blog. Therefore I will no longer address any of them.
John, I repeat, I believe in his right to think what he wishes to think and to say what he wishes to say and to publish what he wishes to publish. This is a free country. Because we are a free country I have faith in the fact that the majority of people reading these statements will totally disassociate themselves from this belief system. While I do not consider myself part of the structured settlement industry I would have to believe that the industry would wish to disassociate itself from his position and any statements made therein. Our client database contains well over 7,000 plaintiff attorneys. I can assure you that if each and every one of them read all of Mr. Hindert's "Structured Settlement Credo" and believed that he was speaking on behalf of the structured settlement industry, that the majority of them would never again deal with a member of the industry.
On a closing note I can tell you that the majority of the highest profile attorneys that I have ever known have always felt it is their responsibility to recommend to their clients that they explore many financial options. If those attorneys believed that structured settlement brokers considered that the giving of this advice was "original sin" they would never, ever deal with those brokers again. As I've stated, I have no interest in what Mr. Hindert has to say about me or my company. I doubt that my clients waste their time reading his blog but if I am wrong, all he is doing is enhancing my business interests. I don't intend to waste any more of my time reading his blog or responding to anybody about his comments. If he wishes to continue his ranting and raving that is his business. If you become aware of him commenting about me in a blatantly illegal and actionable mode then feel free to let me know because that would go beyond freedom of speech and indeed, I have constitutional rights as well.
All the best,