by Structured Settlement Watchdog
The Terrence Taylor structured settlement "10 sales approved in 2 years", pending for more than 6 years factoring case has a new but familiar twist following the appointment of new counsel to replace Steve Heretick, a soon to be former member of the Virginia House of Delegates. “I don’t take cases that I have doubts about.” Heretick told the Washington Post in 2015, later clarifying had he known what he knows now there is a case he might have declined to take: “The Terrence Taylor case". [See The flawed system that allows companies to make millions off the injured Washington Post December 27, 2015]
123 Lump Sum "Dos-Si-Dos" in the "Virginia Reel"
New counsel, apparently retained by 123Lump Sum parties December 10, 2021, yet another elected official, a member of the Virginia Senate, who has requested a continuance on their behalf for a December 17, 2021 interpleader hearing, citing his legislative obligations in preparation for the 2022 Virginia General Assembly that begins January 12, 2021. Counsel cites Virginia Code Section 30-5, the Supreme Court of Virginia, which has "consistently ruled that this code provision effectively trumps other provisions of the code of Virginia". Convenient and brilliant if you're 123 Lump Sum, or any of its investors. But what does it say about the structured settlement secondary market and the Portsmouth Circuit in particular?
Two Months Ago
On October 6, 2021, Judge Charles Maxfield seemed ambitious about getting the Taylor case moving from its languished state with a stack of 25 motions pending; Maxfield referred to the long delays as "shameful" [a significant amount of time can be attributed to Heretick's legislative obligations]. But at the end of the hearing, Maxfield's only new ruling was on a long pending motion by Taylor to disqualify Steve Heretick from representing his client 123 Lump Sum. Taylor's camp filed the discovery motion more than 5 years ago because it intended to call Heretick as a witness. At the time Heretick argued "that Taylor's motion to disqualify Plaintiffs' counsel is simply another dilatory, vexatious effort to district this Court from the essential nature of this case, to-wit, that Terrence Taylor lied deliberately and repeatedly to this Court under oath in seeking to sell his annuity rights in a significant number of transactions, and now, having squandered his assets on prostitutes, gambling, and drugs, seeks to blame everyone but himself for his conduct". If that truly was the position of 123 Lump Sum and they were confident in their position, then why didn't 123 Lump Sum simply let the chips fall where they may, instead of a bunch of white men dragging the case out against a black amputee burn victim for more than 6 years?
In the process of cleaning up the docket however, on October 6, 2021 Judge Maxfield also:
- let stand a 2015 decision by recused Judge James Hawks to unseal the Taylor structured settlement transfer petitions in Portsmouth case records. Hawk's ruling was stymied by Heretick's not signing the order and it was never entered. Subsequently Hawks recused himself after he was mentioned in a Wall Street Journal article by journalist Leslie Scism.
- let stand an October 27, 2017 ruling by recused Judge Johnny Morrison, which at the time was after two years of inexplicable delays, giving Terrence Taylor will get his day in court and also permitted New York Life to bring in investors as additional parties and to go forward with its interpleader action, while litigation over the legitimacy of his structured settlement transfers goes forward. The investors are assignees of certain factored structured settlement payment streams originated by 123 Lump Sum and Isettlements from Terrence Taylor's structured settlement
Taylor originally filed suit February 26, 2015 in Eastern Virginia Federal Court, seeking jurisdiction in Alexandria Virginia partly on the basis that the Order of the federal judge in the underlying 1989 personal injury settlement precluded transfers. Defendants played the Rooker Feldman card and the matter was voluntarily dismissed. SAF immediately filed for a Declaratory Judgment action, to which Taylor counterclaimed in March 2015. [ Structured Asset Funding, LLC et al v Terrence E. Taylor Portsmouth Circuit VA Case No. CL15-3022].
Judge Hawks recused himself after he was mentioned in the aforementioned a WallStreet Journal article about the Taylor case authored by Leslie Scism and the wheels of justice were at a standstill until June 2017 hearings and Judge Johnny Morrison's ruling 4 months later. Then Morrison was recused.
Unless Judge Maxfield grants 123 Lump Sum's latest stall tactic, the next hearing is set for December 17, 2021 in which a single motion is to be decided, that of Income Stream Funding Partner's objection to New York Life's interpleader motion. Income Stream Funding Partners LLC was an assignee of some of the payment streams at issue in the case and filed a motion to dismiss the interpleader. Two of the other defendants have already unsuccessfully contested the New York Life interpleader action. If the motion is granted the case could continue to drag on for years.
What is interpleader?
A way for a holder of property to initiate a suit between two or more claimants to the property. If, for example, A holds property that he knows he does not own, but that both B and C are claiming, A can sue both B and C in an interpleader action, where B and C could litigate who actually owns the property. [Source: Legal Information Institute]
What is an assignee in a structured settlement factoring transaction?
Under Virginia Law, "Assignee" means a party acquiring or proposing to acquire structured settlement payment rights directly or indirectly from a transferee of such rights
How many motions STILL remain pending in the Terrence Taylor Structured Settlement Factoring Litigation AFTER 6 Years?
24 motions remain pending including a motion to compel discovery that have been pending for 6 years.
How is justice being served here?
- There is no licensing and very little regulation of the sales practices of structured settlement payment buyers like 123 Lump Sum. While Virginia amended its Structured Settlement Protection Act following the blistering Washington Post expose, about the Taylor case, the Taylor case itself has been languishing due to legal maneuvering that does little to inspire confidence in the structured settlement secondary market or the ability of Virginia Courts to move such cases in a timely and fair manner. At the time of commencement of litigation in 2015 Mr. Taylor was an adult living with his parents with a 4-year-old child.
- The numerous opportunistic transactions undertaken by related entities and approved by Portsmouth courts in a short period of time on Taylor in the first place, was and still is a damning indictment of how little checks and balances there were from top to bottom.
- While the issues here transcend race, it's notable that so far it has been one black man against a bunch of white guys. So I'm just asking the obvious question "Can a black man with a structured settlement get a fair shake in Virginia Courts?", because on this showing it doesn't seem so.