by John Darer CLU ChFC CSSC RSP
Championing qualified settlement funds and overlooking how you "saddle up the horse" when you "get to the rodeo" could result in broken bones, just as it did for a plaintiff's structured settlement planning firm, as Mark Wahlstrom reported on January 18, 2012 on the Settlement Channel..
Wahlstrom relates his story of how unnamed "do it yourselfers" shunned assistance on a big mass tort deal and their lack of oversight resulted in "the governing document on file that was intended to allow for the structuring of taxable damage awards was instead, due to a complete lack of oversight by the settlement firm, prohibiting them from doing any structured settlements". This likely caused the plaintiffs to lose their opportunity to mitigate their tax exposure in the year of settlement. Depending on the number of claimants, the cost to the plaintiffs and their attorneys (if the attorneys wanted to structure attorney fees) could be in the hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars,
You could say that the handling of the "Mass Tort" has been turned into a "big ass tort". The bad news is that Errors and Omissions coverage for structured settlements is very expensive and available policy limits are limited, with defense costs often inside those limits. Some firms that champion qualified settlement funds may not carry coverage commensurate to the amount of times they have handled qualified settlement funds.
In other words, attention to detail can make or break an opportunity when it comes to structured settlements. For years I have playfully chastised certain members of the industry for publishing incorrect information and/or leaving incorrect information out there on the Internet or in published articles with trial lawyer publications, or they have been unwilling to remove it when it has been made known that it is wrong.
Perhaps the most egregious QSF jockey claim is that "Qualified Settlement Funds Give Plaintiffs Full Market Access" while pitching single claimant QSFs. As I've reported here numerous times, making such a claim today is a prime example of those "fresh steaming brown patties" that you might find in one of those stalls housing the bulls at the rodeo.