by John Darer® CLU ChFC MSSC CeFT® RSP CLTC
The Maryland Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure has approved several important reforms that are set for approval next month by the Maryland Court of Appeals. The reforms were motivated by a Washington Post story published in August which alleged that African American Baltimore City lead paint victims with structure settlements were being exploited by Bethesda based structured settlement buyer Access Funding. The story galvanized both state and federal lawmakers to demand a solution, which has been fast tracked.
An October 9, 2015 article in the Washington Post announcing the approval of the propose reforms by the committee, points out that because the problem that was exposed by the Post directly involved judicial proceedings, it can be fixed by rule.
Highlights of the reforms include that
- All petitions to be filed in the residing jurisdiction of the payees,
- Payees now must attend court hearings to help the judge decide whether the proposed deal is in their best interest.
- Companies must now say whether the underlying case involved any claim of lead paint poisoning or “mental or cognitive impairment.”
- Independent professional advisers — who counsel payees about the (structured settlement payments for cash) deals’ implications — must now appear at the hearings, divulge how frequently they’ve done business with the settlement purchasing companies and detail their investigation into the seller’s mental capacity.
This is a great first important step. Lawmakers must pass reforms to establish licensing/registration, establish rules of business conduct, appoint a regulator, or expand the p0wers of an existing regulator who can oversee business conduct an have the power to fine suspend or revoke business authority for violations of the law.