Without further explanation, Judge John Galasso has denied a Motion by liability insurers, including Travelers, Fireman's Fund and Hartford, asking the Judge to "clarify and/or correct" his August 16, 2012 Executive Life of New York (ELNY) Memorandum Decision insofar as the Memorandum Decision "caused confusion or mistake" concerning responsibilities of those liability insurers to make up shortfalls on ELNY annuities. (see Addendum below)
The ELNY Memorandum Decision states in relevant part: "certain insurance companies such as Travelers, the Fireman's Fund Companies and Hartford have assured the Court that they will make up the difference to those identified shortfall payees for any settlement obligation where they purchased an ELNY annuity on behalf of an injured party."
In their June 14, 2012 Motion, attorneys representing those liability insurers, as well as Jefferson Insurance Company, Allianz Global Risks US Insurance Company dba Allianz Global Corporate and Specialty North America, John Hancock Property and Casualty Insurance Company and John Hancock Indemnity Company, asked the Court to "amend its decision to omit what the Court likely intended as an aside, or background, which is not material to the Court's approval" of the ELNY Liquidation Plan.
Their Motion had attempted to distinguish two types of structured settlement funding alternatives: "buy and hold" vs. qualified assignments. The Motion maintained that "at no time" did the liability insurers "undertake liability following qualified assignments - liability was extinguished pursuant to the qualified assignment arrangements."
The Motion further attempted to clarify statements made during the ELNY Liquidation hearings by attorneys representing liability insurers including Fireman's Fund attorney Peter Vodola and Traveler's attorney Craig Ulman. (see Addendum below)
According to the Motion, Vodola's promise on behalf of Fireman's Fund that structured settlement shortfall payees "will receive a hundred percent of their benefits regardless of what happens here" was specifically limited to ELNY annuitants "who are entitled to payments under annuities owned by Fireman's Fund."
Similarly, the Motion sought to clarify Ulman's testimony which provided in part: "l can't speak for any but Travelers but they will in fact be covering the shortfalls under their structured settlements. So that the payees will receive the same number of dollars that they are -- were scheduled to receive eventually." Ulman further stated: "The fact is, their obligations are what they are and they will not be affected by the status of the plan." (see Addendum below)
As S2KM has previously written, the legal rights and responsibilities of ELNY qualified assignments represents a critical issue that may subsequently be litigated by the ELNY structured settlement shortfall victims. The Motion suggested that all qualified assignments release all defendants and liability insurers from future liability for promised periodic payments and that annuity ownership determines liability.
Those "suggestions" and/or "assumptions", however, are not necessarily or universally true. For example:
- IRC section 130, which defines a "qualified assignment", does not address whether the assignor's duty is discharged as a result of a qualified assignment.
- IRC section 130 does include requirements which must be met to successfully create a qualified assignment.
- The Monarch Capital case demonstrates some judges apply "creative" legal analysis to protect structured settlement payees following the bankruptcy of a qualified structured settlement assignee.
In subsequent blog posts, S2KM will review IRC section 130 history and requirements and summarize, in the context of ELNY structured settlement shortfall payments, relevant sections of the Restatement (Second) of Law of Contracts addressing:
- Assignment of Rights
- Delegation of Duties
- Delegation vs. Novation
- Disclaimer by a Beneficiary
- Misrepresentation and Voidable Contracts
For S2KM's complete coverage of the ELNY liquidation, see the structured settlement wiki.
ADDENDUM (July 29, 2012) - Please note two corrections to the above report:
- Although Judge Galasso's Memorandum Decision specifically mentions Travelers, Travelers had nothing to do with the Motion "to clarify and/or correct" the Memorandum Decision. Travelers was "not a party to [the Motion] and learned about it only after it was filed" according to Craig Ulman, Travelers' attorney.
- Although Ulman's testimony, as quoted above, appears in the ELNY liquidation hearing transcript, the Motion "to clarify and/or correct" does not mention Ulman's testimony at the hearing. Instead, Ulman's hearing testimony, as quoted by S2KM above, appears in the "Affirmation of Edward S. Stone in Opposition to Motions to Clarify and/or Correct the Court's Memorandum Decision."
The following related ELNY documents are accessible on the structured settlement wiki:
- Memorandum Decision
- Motion to Clarify and/or Correct
- Affirmation in Opposition
- Reply in Support
- Decision denying the Motion
- Craig Ulman Testimony from the ELNY Liquidation Hearing Transcript