by Structured Settlement Watchdog®
Philadelphia attorney's comments highlight system flaws
When I brought time sensitive information about a potential Florida forum shopping case to a Philadelphia attorney representing the nameless life insurance company that issued the structured settlement annuity in June, she felt it more important to berate me for publicizing the plight of Terrence Taylor, the black amputee burn victim who, through a flawed Virginia structured settlement protection system that was supposed to protect annuitants, instead was enabled to do 11 structured settlement transfers in 2 years, estimated at $8.5 in present value for $1.4 million in cash, that were not in his interest, let alone his best interest. At the time I wrote here that I hoped that her views are not the views of the insurance company she represents. [ see How Far Should an Annuity Issuer Go With Structured Settlement Transfers? June 3, 2015}
I hope that Philadelphia attorney, who let the Florida forum shopping case slide in favor of the eye-opening dressing down, has read the Washington Post this morning.
In "Flawed System Lets Companies Make Millions Off The Injured", Terrence McCoy of the Washington Post, questions the integrity of the courtroom of Portsmouth Virgina Circuit Court, which McCoy calls the "de facto clearinghouse for these (structured settlement factoring) transactions" and where most deals are approved and few sellers attend hearings, according to an examination of thousands of public records and interviews with industry insiders.
The Washington Post reports that it examined every case attorney Stephen Heretick filed in 2013 that was assigned to Judge Dean Sword, when he approved seven of Terrence Taylor’s deals. Seven in one single year! That year, Heretick petitioned Sword at least 594 times and frequently filed deals in bulk. Weeks later, the judge would rule on dozens — and once, 52 — in an hour-long hearing. Overall, Sword approved 95 percent of the deals. More than 50% of the structured settlement factoring cases that Judge Sword presided over were filed under seal. As I wrote on November 18, 2015 in Court Scraping and Structured Settlement Factoring Reform, "A source of irritation for the gazumped structured settlement buyers, some of whom have taken to filing cases under seal to wall off the competition and enable them to wield the proverbial rusty brush. When it comes to selling structured settlement payment rights, the annuitant is selling payments at a discount, sometimes substantial. Getting more cash for the payments rights, or having to sell less of them to meet the seller's immediate need is a preferable solution isn't it?
Even now, even with the exposure of this case moving into the national mainstream, Terrence Taylor continues to be solicited by settlement buyers asking "if he’s interested in making some easy money".
A Portsmouth Virginia judge recently denied a motion by Structured Asset Funding and related entities to dismiss the counterclaims filed by Taylor and the case goes forward.
The Washington Post article already has hundreds of comments, perhaps one of the most notable of which, by Josie of Tidewater, is "...To make matters worse, Heretick will be appointing the judges next year".