The Executive Life of New York (ELNY) Liquidation Hearing enters its seventh day today before Judge John M. Galasso in Room 35 of the Nassau County State Supreme Court Building in Mineola, New York. This blog post provides a summary update for S2KM readers. Note: see also the Addendum.
Days 1 and 2 - Attorneys for ELNY's Receiver, the Superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services (Superintendent), and the National Organization of Life and Health Guaranty Associations (NOLHGA) present their case for ELNY's liquidation and approval of a proposed Restructuring Agreement to create successor company Guaranty Association Benefits Company (GABC). They present two witnesses: Jonathan Bing, Special Deputy Superintendent of the New York Liquidation Bureau (NYLB), and expert witness Jack Gibson, a Managing Director of Towers Watson.
Attorneys for ELNY structured settlement shortfall victims cross examine Bing and begin their cross-examination of Gibson. Before the Superintendent's attorneys complete their case, Judge Galasso allows ELNY structured settlement shortfall victims attending the hearing to offer oral testimony as an accommodation to their travel schedules.
Day 3 - Attorneys for ELNY structured settlement shortfall victims continue their cross examination of Gibson. Judge Galasso denies their motion to compel immediate disclosure of source materials relied upon by Gibson as well as copies of all objections filed in connection with the Petition to liquidate and restructure ELNY.
Attorneys for the shortfall victims had argued that claims of confidentiality by the Superintendent intentionally deprived their clients of full and fair access to important and relevant information and, accordingly, a full and fair opportunity to challenge the Superintendent's proposed ELNY Restructuring Agreement. They also claimed it is "extremely prejudicial" to require them to cross-examine Gibson ("a highly skilled actuary") without access to the source data and assumptions he used to perform his calculations.
Day 4 - Attorneys representing ELNY structured settlement shortfall victims continue cross-examining Gibson. Judge Galasso agrees to two of their requests: a reservation of rights to call a witness representing NOLHGA to testify about participating Guaranty Association (PGA) coverage amounts and issues; and a Microsoft Excel version of Schedule 1.15 of the proposed ELNY Restructuring Agreement. In addition to Day 2 testimony from ELNY structured settlement shortfall victims, their attorneys have also entered documents into the Court record including:
- Written and oral statements by ELNY structured settlement shortfall victims;
- A Society of Actuaries Structured Settlement Mortality Study;
- An article titled "The Trouble with ELNY" written by Peter Bickford.
Day 5 - Attorneys from Hogan Lovells, representing Travelers Insurance Company as an "Objector", use their opportunity to cross-examine Gibson to show their support for the proposed Restructuring Agreement. Note: Hogan Lovells also serves as General Counsel for the National Structured Settlement Trade Association (NSSTA).
Cynthia Lindsey, an attorney representing a Michigan structured settlement shortfall victim, reaches the opposite conclusion during her cross examination of Gibson. After quoting dictionary definitions for "fair" and "just", Lindsey characterizes the proposed Restructuring Agreement as "a bunch of bull" telling Gibson: "You are asking this Honorable Court to approve this plan based upon your assumptions. You don't have facts." After repeated questioning by Lindsey, Gibson acknowledges NOLHGA has paid Gibson's employer, Towers Watson, "more than $3 million" since 2006 for their ELNY consulting work.
On re-direct examination, attorneys for the Superintendent (Sidley Austin) and NOLHGA (Faegre Baker Daniels) encourage Gibson to repeat claims from his earlier testimony that the proposed ELNY Restructuring Agreement represents the "best plan" and that none of the ELNY payees will be worse off compared with a straight liquidation.
Day 6 - Edward Stone, an attorney representing several structured settlement shortfall victims, continues questioning Gibson on re-cross examination. Stone questions whether all shortfall victims will be better off under the proposed Restructuring Agreement compared with a straight liquidation. In a straight liquidation, ELNY shortfall victims could receive full coverage payments from PGAs instead of net payments under the proposed Restructuring Agreement. Stone also introduces the idea of an alternative restructuring plan for ELNY and asks Gibson whether he considered various plan options.
Among Stone's suggested alternatives: 1) discounting ELNY's future deferred lump sum obligations to reduce ELNY's future liabilities and provide immediate cash for ELNY payees; and 2) selling ELNY to an existing life insurance company that could benefit from (and pay a premium for) ELNY's net operating loss carryforwards. Note: in an earlier interview with the Courthouse News Service, Stone stated he could develop a more "fair and equitable" alternative ELNY restructuring plan if he had access to the same information provided NOLHGA and Gibson since 2006.
When Gibson finally steps down (after six days of testimony and cross-examination), attorneys for the Superintendent and NOLHGA call NOLHGA's President, Peter Gallanis as a witness. On cross-examination, Carrie Tendler, an attorney representing multiple structured settlement shortfall victims, gets Gallanis to confirm that PGA contributions under the Superintendent's proposed Restructuring Agreement will be "net amounts" - i.e. their full coverage caps minus credits for current ELNY assets.
The ELNY Liquidation Hearing resumes Friday March 23, 2012 with Tendler continuing her cross-examination of Gallanis. For S2KM's complete reporting about ELNY, see the structured settlement wiki.
Day 7 ADDENDUM - Testimony by, and cross-examination of, NOLHGA's President Peter Gallanis continued on Friday March 23 eliciting the following information: Gallanis acknowleged GABC has not yet selected an investment manager or developed an investment strategy. Attorneys for structured settlement shortfall victims raised two issues related to the proposed ELNY Restructuring Agreement:
- Orphan contract enhancements create a potential public policy issue because they shift available funds that could be paid to other ELNY shortfall payees.
- If an ELNY structured settlement payee with life contingent payments dies, that payee could receive less than the present value posted on Schedule 1.15 creating a potential legal claim for his/her estate.
The ELNY Hearing continues on Monday March 26 with attorneys for the ELNY structured settlement shortfall victims expected to present witnesses.