by Structured Settlement Watchdog
Structured settlement payments are neither going to a "Barber Shop Duet" of structured settlement factoring companies or their investors, nor to Zach Barber, the 18 year old Pennsylvania man whose disputed structured settlement payments were pillaged starting when he was only 10 years old, just yet.
Judge Lawrence J. O'Toole, Administrative Judge of the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Orphans Court Division, issued an opinion on September 21, 2020 stating:
"In essence, the action currently before this Court claims that Pinnacle (Capital) and Sempra (Finance) used predatory tactics by filing the Petitions in Butler and Beaver counties.
Also, Pinnacle did not inform the Judges in Beaver County that the exact same Petition had been denied in Butler County, nor did they inform the other Judges that the Petition had been granted previously for the same purpose [i.e., to pay off Mr. Barber's mortgage (Zach's father)].
After consultation with Judge Yeager in Butler County and agreeing with him that Allegheny County is, and always has been, the county with proper jurisdiction, this Court issued an Order of Court dated June 1, 2020 granted Petitioner Zachary Barber's Motion for Coordination of Actions. Pursuant to Pa.R.C.P. 213.1, the Court ORDERS that (1) this case is coordinated with Butler County Case No. 2018-40027; (2) all proceedings in Butler County Case No. 2018-40027 are transferred to this case; and (3) all further litigation in both matters shall be conducted in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas at Case No. 4037 of 2005.
On June 17, 2020, Sempra Finance filed a Notice of Appeal with regard to the June 1, 2020 Order of Court. As such, the Court issued an Order on June 22, 2020, staying all matters pending before the Court and holding that the Order of Court dated January 31, 2020 remains in full force and effect. On July 9, 2020, Pinnacle filed a Notice of Appeal with regard to the June 22, 2020 Order of Court. On July 13, 2020 and July 22, 2020 the two investors filed Notices of Appeal with regard to the June 22, 2020 Order of Court.
Pa.R.C.P. 213.1 provides for the coordination of actions pending in different counties. It is ironic that Sempra would claim that there was no action pending in Butler County, when it was Sempra that filed a Petition to Enforce April 18, 2018 Order on May 11, 2020, which resulted in the filing of the Motion for Coordination of Actions before this Court. This Court contacted Judge Yeager in Butler County and thoroughly discussed the background of this case. Most importantly, the two Courts discussed the fact that Allegheny County was the situs of the original Order dated July 6, 2005. Judge Yeager was in complete agreement that the proper venue for adjudicating all matters concerning Zachary Barber's annuities is Allegheny County.
This entire case is controlled by the July 6, 2005 Order issued by Judge Lucchino of Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. The fact that Sempra, and later Pinnacle, went to the surrounding counties and circumvented Allegheny County does not result in Allegheny County losing jurisdiction; rather, it simply demonstrates that Sempra and Pinnacle were forum shopping, as they did not believe they would be successful in Allegheny County.
Judge O' Toole wrote "The question to be answered is: why is Sempra fighting jurisdiction in Allegheny County, noting that Pinnacle did not appeal the June 1, 2020 Order?
The only answer is Sempra is attempting to hide from Allegheny County, even though the entire matter started in Allegheny County and the July 6, 2005 Order specifically states "the funds are not to be withdrawn by the minor until he reaches the age of majority or by further Order of this Court," not the Court in Beaver County or the Court in Butler County.
In late August, a motion to have the payments start immediately flowing to Barber was denied.
For more background please refer to September 2, 2020 post