Structured settlements are supposed to provide economic security for people with serious injuries and disabilities - to help them rebuild their lives and, in many cases, to achieve special lifetime accomplishments. Instead of an all-cash personal injury settlement, structured settlement recipients accept a promise of future periodic payments.
What happens, if and when, that promise is broken? What happens when a structured settlement funding company, and the regulators and guaranty system responsible for protecting the structured settlement recipients, fail to make and/or insure full payment?
These questions are highlighted by the Executive Life of New York (ELNY) liquidation - the dominant structured settlement story of 2012 and 2013 and one of the most important developments in the history of the United States structured settlement industry.
The story of ELNY, as well as its affiliate Executive Life of California (ELIC), and their parent company, First Capital Corporation (FEC), is long and complex. For background of events prior to ELNY's 1991 receivership, S2KM recommends Gary Schulte's 1992 book "The Fall of First Executive". For an Executive Life timeline, see the structured settlement wiki.
Significantly, neither the 1991 ELNY Rehabilitation Order nor the 1992 Order approving the ELNY Rehabilitation Plan declared ELNY to be insolvent.
Following 22 years of "Rehabilitation" supervised by various New York State Superintendents of Insurance and Financial Services, as Receivers, ELNY was officially liquidated August 8, 2013 pursuant to an Order of Liquidation signed by Nassau County New York State Supreme Court Judge John M. Galasso on April 16, 2012.
As part of his Liquidation Order, Judge Galasso also approved a Restructuring Agreement, as proposed by ELNY's Receiver and NOLHGA, whereby ELNY's remaining assets and ongoing liabilities have now been transferred to a successor company, Guaranty Associations Benefit Company (GABC), a not-for-profit Washington D.C.-based captive insurance company.
ELNY Shortfall Payees
- Thirty-seven (37%) percent of all remaining ELNY (now GABC) structured settlement annuities (SSAs) will experience shortfalls.
- SSAs represent ninety-eight (98%) percent of total ELNY shortfall annuities.
- The total percentage of each ELNY SSA contract value "protected" by ELNY's remaining assets, state guaranty fund payments plus additional enhancements varies from 31% to 100% depending upon the individual contract.
In a 2013 blog post titled "An ELNY Nightmare", S2KM profiled Glenn Arensdorf, one of the ELNY structured settlement victims. For profiles of five additional ELNY structured settlement shortfall payees, see "The Complete ELNY Saga - 21 Years of Mismanagement, Corruption, Broken Promises and Shattered Lives", the lead article in a comprehensive ELNY analysis published in 2012 by LifeHealthPro.
Faced with significant payment reductions resulting from ELNY's liquidation and restructuring agreement, ELNLY's structured settlement shortfall payees were left with three options:
- Accept their payment reductions under the ELNY Restructuring Agreement and do nothing; or,
- Appeal Judge Galasso's Order and ask the Appellate Court to send ELNY's Receiver back to drawing board; or,
- Bring a separate legal action against the Receiver personally for bad faith conduct, breach of fiduciary duty and fraudulent concealment or waste.
Several ELNY structured settlement shortfall payees chose Options 2 and 3.
Option 2 failed. The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Second Department denied the ELNY shortfall payees' appeal of Judge Galasso's Order on February 6, 2013. New York State Court of Appeals denied a subsequent motion by ELNY shortfall payees for Leave to Appeal the Second Department decision on May 3, 2013.
Option 3 remains unresolved.
- Class Action Lawsuit - Several ELNY structured settlement shortfall payees pursued Option 3 by filing a federal class action lawsuit November 8, 2012 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against the ELNY Receiver (New York Superintendent of Financial Services Benjamin Lawsky) in his personal capacity.
- Receiver's Response - In response, the Receiver filed a motion December 7, 2012 asking the Liquidation Court (Judge Galasso) to find the shortfall payees in contempt for violating the injunction provision of the ELNY Liquidation Order.
- Contempt Order - Judge Galasso issued a Contempt Order on January 25, 2013. He also imposed a $5000 fine and threatened additional fines plus imprisonment of legal counsel if the ELNY structured settlement shortfall payees did not dismiss their Federal action which they did (without prejudice) on February 7, 2013.
- Bottom Line - So long as Judge Galasso's Contempt Order and continuing threat of additional fines and imprisonment of legal counsel remain in effect, ELNY structured settlement shortfall payees are effectively barred from pursuing Federal legal action against ELNY's Receiver for alleged mismanagement of ELNY's assets during ELNY's 22 year Rehabilitation.
- Shortfall Payee's Appeal - ELNY's shortfall payees are currently pursuing an appeal challenging "each and every part" of Judge Galasso's January 25, 2013 Contempt Order as a necessary step before re-filing their Federal action against the Receiver and his agents.
- Appellate Issues - The appellate brief filed on behalf of the ELNY shortfall payees addresses three legal issues:
- Did the ELNY Liquidation Court exceed it subject matter jurisdiction or otherwise err by interfering with shortfall payees' constitutional right to bring suit against the Receiver in Federal court?
- Did the ELNY Liquidation Court err in holding the shortfall payees in contempt for violating its injunctive Order when the order does not clearly and unequivocally bar personal capacity suits against the Receiver?
- Did the ELNY Liquidation Court err in holding that the shortfall payees conceded the Order barred personal capacity lawsuits by appealing the order and using this alleged concession as the basis to hold the shortfall payees in contempt?
Reliance Insurance Company was declared insolvent in 2001 and the Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner was appointed as Liquidator. The Reliance Estate, however, remains open and its assets, until November 4, 2013, included approximately 3,400 structured settlements of which approximately 3093 involve annuities issued by United Pacific Life Insurance Company, a former Reliance subsidiary which Reliance sold in 1993 and which is now known as Genworth Life Insurance Company.
Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Judge Bonnie Brigance Leadbetter signed an Order on November 4, 2013 approving a Transfer and Assumption Agreement whereby Reliance will transfer all Reliance-owned structured settlement annuity contracts and corresponding payment obligations issued by Genworth Life Insurance Company to a new corporation, the Genworth Annuity Service Corporation.
For S2KM's complete reporting about the ELNY liquidation, see the structured settlement wiki.
For additional S2KM 2013 annual reports, see: