by Structured Settlement Watchdog®
In its defense, Ringler Associates has helped underscore why plaintiffs should seek independent professional advice when it comes to structured settlements and indeed, all settlement planning matters.
From 2005 until about mid-2011 the Ringler Associates website home page proclaimed that Ringler was "the only (structured settlement) broker you need". [source: Wayback Archive]
Its August 2014 reply to plaintiff's response to its motion to dismiss the Class Action against it by a group of Oregon ELNY annuitants however, tells another story:
Citing the 2010 decision in Yanisse Adrian v Mesirow Financial Structured Settlements LLC et al Puerto Rico District Court 3:2008cv0118 , Ringler's defense team articulates:
"[T]he primary broker-client or broker-buyer relationship here that would come closer to the sort of business relationship alluded to by [plaintiff’s]
analogy was not between Mesirow and [plaintiff], but between Mesirow and Fireman’s Fund, and perhaps with the other defendants. Second, even
though [plaintiff] may have exhibited her trust in Kling(l)er’s judgment, and even though Kling(l)er may have intended for [plaintiff] to trust her
judgment, the fact is that Kling(l)er worked for the defense side of the underlying case, and she took direction ultimately from Fireman’s Fund;
she was not beholden to [the plaintiff]."
Adrian at 425-426; see also Tsuyoshi v. Sec’y of HHS, 2009 U.S. Claims LEXIS 186 at *27-28 (Fed. Cl. Mar. 19, 2009) (explaining that “an annuity broker, retained by a tortfeasor, neither has a contractual relationship with the injured person nor owes the injured person a fiduciary duty”) (citing Macomber v. Travelers Property and Cas. Corp.,804 A.2d 180, 193 n. 12 (Conn. 2002)). For these same reasons, defendants in this case,as structured settlement annuity brokers retained by the defense in the underlying dispute (pursuant to the settlement freely entered into by plaintiffs), cannot be said to owe any special duty of care to plaintiffs". [Read Adrian v Mesirow Summary Judgment Order]
Ironically the "only broker you need" tag line changed shortly after the Adrian case was decided. It was not used however, at the time of the cases subject to the class action. Just an observation.
As a practical matter most cases involve a settlement adviser from both sides. If a plaintiff is not comfortable with who his or her lawyer has recommended, or wants a second opinion, he or she should seek independent advice from a credentialed settlement adviser.