by Structured Settlement Watchdog®
Unsettled Investors in structured settlement derivatives sold to them as "secondary market annuities" by Somerset Wealth Strategies, received the following update to the ongoing lawsuits against Access Funding. The Access Funding lawsuits arose after a series of blistering articles beginning in mid-2015 in the Washington Post. The lawsuit has threatened investors in structured settlement derivatives, some of whom are retirees. The email authored by Thomas Hamlin of Somerset Wealth Strategies underscores how very different structured settlement derivatives are from the structured settlement annuities from whom the investments are derived.
"---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Thomas Hamlin <[email protected]>
Date: Sat, Aug 19, 2017 at
Subject: UPDATE to Investors August 19, 2017
August 19, 2017
RE: Update to Investors: Maryland Attorney General Lawsuit Against Access Funding, et. al. (“the Lawsuit”)
Since our last update, there have been a number of significant developments in the Access Funding litigation. To begin, the Court denied Access Funding’s long-pending motions to dismiss in a one-page order stating that the motions were denied and that a memorandum explaining the denial would follow. We still don’t have the court’s explanation, but we know that the motions have been denied.
On a more positive note, there was an unexpected turn of events in another case concerning Access Funding that may be very helpful. The other case is a class action brought on behalf of people with lead paint settlements who transferred their right to some or all of their payments to Access Funding – in other words, the people the AG asserts he is trying to protect. An important difference is that the plaintiffs in the class action are trying to recover damages from Access Funding, but not to void the orders approving transfers of payments. The class action therefore would not affect the payments to which you are entitled.
Counsel for the plaintiffs and defendants negotiated a settlement of the class action, and the parties filed a motion seeking the court’s approval of the settlement (class action settlements require court approval; the court must determine that the settlement is “fair”). The settlement provides for payment of $1.1 million to the plaintiffs, all of which would come from the defendants’ liability insurance coverage. The settlement includes a release by the payees of all claims, including the claims asserted by the AG. In other words, if approved and found enforceable, the settlement would prevent the AG from continuing to pursue efforts to void the orders approving transfers of payments that result from lead paint cases.
The AG was not a party to the class action, but because of the impact of the settlement on its case, the AG filed a motion to intervene – to be allowed to participate in the class action – and for a stay of the class action. He argued that the class action settlement would prevent him from pursuing his efforts to obtain much greater relief by voiding the transfers, and therefore the class action should be put on hold while he pursued his case.
At a hearing early this month, the court allowed the AG to intervene in the class action, but denied the AG’s motion to stay the class action, and preliminarily approved settlement. A hearing is scheduled on final approval of the class action settlement in December. If the settlement is finally approved in its current form, including the release of the AG’s claims, it should prevent the AG from pursuing its efforts to void the transfers in lead paint cases. So the class action may bring all of us the result we have been pursuing in those cases.
It is certainly possible that, if the settlement is approved, the AG will appeal, and there may be other steps the AG can take to resist the consequences of the class action settlement. But our understanding is that the settlement, if it is approved and withstands appeal, should be the end of the AG’s case as it affects payments from lead paint settlements.
Our understanding is that the settlement might not affect transfers of payments that arise from settlement of claims not involving lead paint. But most of the transfers at issue relate to lead paint cases, and those are the cases the AG has emphasized. Still, we can’t know for sure whether the AG would pursue his case for non-lead paint payments alone if the lead paint cases were ruled out.
In the meantime, the AG amended its complaint to name as “interested parties” certain entities affiliated with SWS and other firms in similar positions. But because the class action may, in just a few months, make it impossible for the AG to pursue its claim, we are watching the class action closely and with hope.
We will report back to you after the December hearing, or sooner if there are important developments. We hope to have even better news then.
Thomas B. Hamlin Andrew T. Murdoch
Founder & CEO President
Somerset Wealth Strategies, LLC Somerset Wealth Strategies, LLC
Scott M. Sadar
Executive Vice President
Somerset Wealth Strategies, LLC"
Companies Selling Structured Settlement Derivatives Still Using Secondary Market Annuity Scam Label.
Intermediaries such as SMA Hub, Annuity Straight Talk and others, possibly including certain settlement planners, push structured settlement derivatives using the term "Secondary Market Annuities". One wonders if Somerset Wealth's investors dodge the bullet on this one, whether it resumes its marketing using the errant SMA label. Secondary Market Annuities are not annuities.