by Structured Settlement Watchdog®
Earlier this month, consumer protection staff from State Attorneys General Offices across the country met at the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) Consumer Protection Seminar in Phoenix, Arizona. This semi-annual meeting is one of the key opportunities during the year for AG staff to convene, compare notes, and exchange ideas regarding priorities, potential future activities, and best practices of their various offices.
A session on Monday October 3, 2016 featured John McCulloch,a board member of the National Structured Settlements Trade Association and Earl Nesbitt for the National Association of Settlement Purchasers and Bill Gruhn of the Maryland Attorney General's office
Maria Colsey Heard, a partner at Cozen & O'Connor, who was one of the attendees at NAAG, reported that the panel addressed structured settlements and the secondary market for structured settlement annuities. The main state regulatory focus was situations where certain secondary market entities had pursued aggressive marketing campaigns with cognitively-impaired individuals to secure a buyout of their structured settlement. Industry groups discussed the larger framework of federal and state legislation to oversee the secondary market for purchases of structured settlement annuities. The goal is to allow consumers to liquidate a portion or all of their structured settlement payments if their lives have changed in a way that requires it, while making sure that there is adequate court and legislative oversight to protect consumers from unintended consequences.
Due to the efforts of various parties, including us, to peel back and shine sunlight on the layers of the secondary market's "stinking rose", the last five years have seen an unprecedented number of documented cases of abuse and in some cases, including abject criminality and/or convicted felons operating in the space. The regulatory gap and the perception of a lack of consequences fuels the abuse.
The Seminar’s focus on emerging consumer financial protection issues demonstrates how AG offices continually assess how they can adapt unfair and deceptive trade practice laws—many now more than 40 years old—to keep pace with innovations in industries and technologies.
The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) was founded in 1907 to help attorneys general fulfill the responsibilities of their office and to assist in the delivery of high quality legal services to the states and territorial jurisdictions. NAAG’s mission is: "To facilitate interaction among Attorneys General as peers and to facilitate the enhanced performance of Attorneys General and their staffs." NAAG fosters an environment of "cooperative leadership," helping attorneys general respond effectively - individually and collectively - to emerging state and federal issues.
According to its website NAAG fosters interstate cooperation on legal and law enforcement issues, conducts policy research and analysis of issues, conducts training, and facilitates communication between the states’ chief legal officers and all levels of government. The Association’s members are the attorneys general of the 50 states and the District of Columbia and the chief legal officers of the Commonwealths of Puerto Rico (Secretary of Justice) and the Northern Mariana Islands, and the territories of American Samoa, Guam, and the Virgin Islands.