New York Superintendent of Financial Services Benjamin Lawsky, as Receiver for Executive Life Insurance Company of New York (ELNY), has announced the proposed liquidation date and the proposed date of closing of the ELNY Restructuring Agreement will be August 8, 2013. ELNY's shortfall payees, including hundreds of structured settlement recipients, can expect their payment reductions to take effect shortly thereafter.
ELNY first entered rehabilitation in 1991 when then New York Insurance Commissioner Salvatore Curiale obtained a Court Order seizing control of the company. The Nassau New York State Supreme Court approved a Plan of Rehabilitation for ELNY in 1992. Neither the ELNY Order of Rehabilitation in 1991 nor the ELNY Plan of Rehabilitation in 1992 determined that ELNY was insolvent.
Under the Rehabilitation Plan, owners of ELNY single premium deferred annuities (SPDA), interest sensitive life policies, whole life policies and term policies were given the option to have Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (MetLife) assume their policies. However, all of ELNY's single premium immediate annuities (including all ELNY structured settlement annuities) remained with ELNY under the supervision of the Insurance Superintendent and his agent, the New York Liquidation Bureau (NYLB). The Rehabilitation Plan named MetLife as Administrator of the ELNY single premium immediate annuities (SPIAs) and payees continued to receive their scheduled annuity payments as part of the Rehabilitation Plan.
The first public announcement that ELNY was experiencing financial problems during its Rehabilitation occurred in December of 2007 when then New York Governor Eliot Spitzer reassuringly announced an “Agreement in Principle” designed to continue paying all ELNY annuitants 100 percent of their benefits. Unfortunately, the “Agreement in Principle” never materialized.
The first audited financial statements for ELNY during its Rehabilitation were released in 2009 for years 2006 and 2007. Those financial statements showed that, as of December 31, 2007, ELNY had assets of $1,344,729,904 and liabilities of $2,538,548,125 resulting in a negative surplus of $1,193,818,221. Subsequent financial statements for years 2008-2010 indicated a deteriorating financial condition. As of December 31, 2010, ELNY had assets of $905,945,201 and liabilities of $2,474,317 resulting in a negative surplus of $1,568,372,142.
On December 17, 2010, Nassau County New York State Supreme Court Judge John M. Galasso issued an Order to Show Cause requiring New York's Insurance Superintendent to present the Court with a proposed Order and Plan of Liquidation for ELNY on or before July 1, 2011. As justification for ELNY's proposed liquidation, the Petition, which was ultimately filed September 1, 2011, stated: “ELNY's financial condition is progressively deteriorating” and “ELNY will be unable to pay its outstanding lawful obligations as they mature in the regular course of business and further efforts to rehabilitate ELNY are futile . . . . the unprecedented global economic crisis and resulting market collapse of 2008 had a significant negative impact on ELNY's retained assets and made continued implementation of the Rehabilitation Plan without a liquidation unfeasible."
The ELNY Restructuring Plan submitted to, and approved by, Judge Galasso was jointly prepared by the Superintendent and the National Organization of Life and Health Guaranty Associations (NOLHGA). Under the Restructuring Plan, participating state life and health guaranty associations (PGAs) and certain life insurance companies have formed a new special purpose not-for-profit captive insurance company under the laws of the district of Columbia to replace ELNY once it is liquidated. The PGAs have agreed to supplement the ELNY benefit payments for annuity contracts eligible for state guaranty association coverage up to the maximum allowable by their state guaranty association laws. The various participating life companies have agreed to provide additional enhancements and have set up an ELNY Hardship Fund.
The Restructuring Plan includes Schedule 1.15 listing all of ELNY's current annuities, with the names of the annuity owners and payees redacted. Schedule 1.15 includes additional information such as individual contract identification numbers, the proposed "uncovered amount" (shortfall) and "total percentage of contract protected" assuming contributions from state life and health insurance guaranty associations and certain supplemental enhancements. Following the Schedule 1.15 filing, the NYLB sent informational notices to each ELNY annuity payee and published weekly notices in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.
Judge Galasso signed the ELNY Order of Liquidation and Approval of the ELNY Restructuring Agreement on April 16, 2012 (as proposed by the Superintendent and despite objections by several structured settlement payees and their attorneys) following a two week hearing March 15-30, 2012.
The anticipated shortfalls resulting from the ELNY liquidation and restructuring were expected to total $920,641,977 on a present value basis as of April 16, 2012. This figure assumed promised state guarantee association payments and enhancements but did not include possible payments from the ELNY Hardship Fund and/or from structured settlement defendants who negotiated and promised to pay future periodic payments funded with ELNY annuities. As a result, approximately 15 percent of the ELNY annuitants are expected to experience an average present value loss of more than $600,000 per annuitant. The remaining ELNY annuitants are not expected to experience any reduction in their payments.
As part of his ELNY Liquidation Order, Judge Galasso granted judicial immunity "to the Receiver and his successors in office, the New York Liquidation Bureau, and their respective attorneys, agents and employees, ... for any cause of action of any nature against them, individually or jointly, for any action or omission by any one or more of them when acting in good faith, in accordance with this Order, or in the performance of their duties pursuant to Insurance Law Article 74 ..."
The Order also enjoined all persons "from commencing or further prosecuting any actions at law or other proceedings against ELNY or its assets, the Receiver or the New York Liquidation Bureau, or their present or former employees, attorneys, or agents, with respect to this proceeding or the discharge of their duties under Insurance Law Article 74."
Subsequent ELNY-related litigation and court filings followed:
- Appeal of Liquidation Order - On March 30, 2012, attorneys representing ELNY structured settlement shortfall payees filed a Notice of Appeal challenging the ELNY Liquidation Order and Restructuring Agreement. Both the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Second Department and the New York State Court of Appeals subequently denied this Appeal.
- Motion to Clarify and/or Correct - On June 14, 2012, attorneys representing several liability insurers who previously purchased ELNY structured settlement annuities filed a Motion asking Judge Galasso to "clarify and/or correct" his ELNY Memorandum Decision insofar as it "caused confusion or mistake" concerning responsibilities of those liability insurers to make up shortfalls on ELNY annuities. Judge Galasso denied the Motion.
- Class Action Lawsuit - On November 8, 2012, attorneys representing ELNY structured settlement shortfall payees filed a class action lawsuit in the United States District Court Southern District of New York against Superintendent of Financial Services of the State of New York, in his non-regulatory capacity as ELNY's Receiver, including predecessor ELNY Receivers, Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (MetLife) and Credit Suisse Group, AG (Credit Suisse) as defendants. The class action Complaint alleged the defendants' mismanagement and misconduct had caused the plaintiffs' ELNY payment shortfalls.
- Contempt Order - On December 7, 2012, responding to the ELNY shortfall payees' class action lawsuit, Superintendent Lawsky filed a Notice of Motion seeking to enforce Judge Galasso's ELNY injunctions and to hold the ELNY shortfall payees' attorneys in contempt of Judge Galasso's ELNY Liquidation Order. On January 25, 2013, Judge Galasso issued an Order holding the ELNY shortfall payees' attorneys in contempt of court and imposing a fine for filing the class action lawsuit.
- Dismissal of Class Action - As a result Judge Galasso's Contempt Order, the ELNY shortfall payees voluntarily dismissed their class action lawsuit on February 7, 2013 without prejudice thereby preserving their right to re-file claims and tolling the statute of limitations.
- Appeal of Contempt Order - On February 14, 2013, three ELNY structured settlement shortfall payees and their attorneys filed a Notice of Appeal challenging Judge Galasso's Contempt Order. That Appeal currently remains unresolved.
For additional information about ELNY, see: