The New York State Court of Appeals (Court of Appeals), New York's highest judicial authority, has denied a Motion for Leave to Appeal a February 6, 2013 decision bythe Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Second Department which rejected a legal challenge by Executive Life of New York (ELNY) structured settlement shortfall payees to the ELNY Order of Liquidation and Approval of the ELNY Restructuring Agreement signed by New York State Supreme Court Judge John M. Galasso on April 16, 2012.
The appeal challenging the merits of the ELNY Liquidation Order had raised three primary issues each of which the Court of Appeals' decision effectively rejected:
- Due Process - "Did inadequate notice and the denial of information to Objectors (ELNY structured settlement shortfall payees), along with the selective application of the Civil Practice Law and Rules, deny Objectors a fair hearing as required by principles of due process?"
- Immunity - "Did the Supreme Court exceed its subject matter jurisdiction or otherwise err in granting immunity to the Receiver and others in their personal capacities, where such immunity is not provided for by statute, is inconsistent with the common law, and is unsupported by evidence?"
- Injunction - "Did the Supreme Court exceed its jurisdiction or otherwise err in permanently enjoining claims against the Receiver and others in their personal capacities, where such injunction is not provided for by statute or the common law, and no evidence was adduced at the hearing?"
The Court of Appeals decision effectively ends litigation challenging the merits of the ELNY Liquidation Order and permits the National Organization of Life and Health Insurance Guaranty Association (NOLHGA) to proceed with the ELNY Restructuring Agreement including substantial annuity payment reductions for more than 1400 structured settlement recipients.
ELNY Contempt Order and Class Action Lawsuit
Another anticipated result of the Court of Appeals decision will be the filing of a brief by legal counsel for three ELNY structured settlement shortfall payees (objector respondents) to perfect their appeal of a Contempt Order issued January 25, 2013 by Judge Galasso. Based upon previous court filings and out-of-court statements, they are expected to argue that Judge Galasso's Contempt Order violates the United States Constitution.
Following Judge Galasso's Contempt Order, attorneys representing the structured settlement shortfall payees voluntarily dismissed their federal court ELNY class action lawsuit , without prejudice, preserving their right to refile claims and tolling the statute of limitations. At that time, shortfall payee attorney Edward Stone characterized the voluntary dismissal as a "strategic decision" attributable to the Contempt Order which left open the possibility of additional fines for continued legal efforts to protect ELNY shortfall payees.
In a letter written to United States District Judge Jesse M. Furman prior to the voluntary dismissal of the ELNY class action lawsuit, shortfall payee attorney Roger Christensen quoted from the 1964 United States Supreme Court decision in Donovan v. City of Dallas: "Early in the history of our country, a general rule was established that state and federal courts would not interfere with or try to restrain each others proceedings. That rule has continued substantially unchanged to this time."
Christensen's letter continued: "It could not be more clear that a state court cannot enjoin a federal action or use contempt proceedings to preclude citizens' attempts to have their claims heard in federal court."
The original class action Complaint named Jeanice Dolan, Daniel A. Malin, Keith Vincent, and other similarly situated ELNY shortfall victims, as plaintiffs, and Benjamin M. Lawsky, Superintendent of Financial Services of the State of New York, in his non-regulatory capacity as ELNY's Receiver, including predecessor ELNY Receivers (Rehabilitator), Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (MetLife) and Credit Suisse Group, AG (Credit Suisse) as defendants.
Based upon allegations of defendant misconduct (see: ELNY Allegation Timeline), the original class action Complaint requested the following damages and relief:
- "Damages equaling the full present value of each Class Member's annuity issued by ELNY, less any amount determined to be owing to Plaintiff under the terms of ELNY's liquidation;
- "Damages equaling the amount of each defendant's unjust enrichment and ill-gotten gains;
- "Attorney fees and litigation expenses, to the extent permitted by contract or law;
- "Pre- and post-judgment interest, to the extent provided by contract or law; and
- "Such other equitable relief as the Court deems appropriate."
For S2KM's complete reporting of the ELNY liquidation, see the structured settlement wiki.