Since it was first published in 1986, “Structured Settlements and Periodic Payment Judgments” (S2P2J), has provided structured settlement stakeholders with an authoritative reference guide, consisting of 16 chapters with extensive footnotes and Appendix documents, to help them understand issues and fashion settlements and judgments utilizing periodic payments. Both the National Structured Settlement Trade Association (NSSTA) and the Society of Settlement Planners (SSP) have utilized S2P2J as an educational resource for their certification programs. Co-authored and updated semi-annually by Daniel W. Hindert, Joseph J. Dehner and Patrick J. Hindert, S2P2J features an online version as well as the traditional hard copy. Online S2P2J includes a search feature and download capability as well as link features to access individual book sections, appendices, footnotes, cases and statutes. Publisher Law Journal Press has now distributed hard copy supplements of Release 66 with online subscribers receiving their update simultaneously with no additional subscription charge.
Release 66 Highlights – Release 66 features new, updated and/or expanded sections addressing the following structured settlement topics:
- Settlement Planning – Release 66 continues tracking and explaining the transition of the United States structured settlement market to a more multi-product planning model that emphasizes the process, integrates other government benefits and often utilizes trusts with input from a variety of planning professionals. This update includes:
- An expanded historical timeline to help orient readers to the changes which have shaped the current structured settlement marketplace.
- A summary comparison of the two business models (“Claim Management” and “Settlement Planning”) which have defined, and competed, in various alternative iterations to shape the current U.S. structured settlement market.
- And highlights the importance of the SSP Settlement Planning Practice Standards as useful “best practices” for settlement planners and structured settlement professionals when advising personal injury victims and their families.
- Plaintiff Attorney Issues – A professional malpractice lawsuit (AM v. Lieff Cabraser) decided in favor of the plaintiff attorneys nonetheless highlights structured settlement best practices for plaintiff attorneys. Release 66 also discusses the ethical issues that can arise under the ABA Model Rules for plaintiff attorneys as the result of plaintiff brokers entering into commission sharing agreements with defense brokers.
- Class Action Cases – Release 66 summarizes the results of two structured settlement class action lawsuits (Ezell v. Lexington and Griffiths v. Aviva) with one (Ezell) decided favorably for the defendants and the other (Griffiths) settled favorably for the plaintiffs.
- NRSRO Credit Ratings – Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organizations (NRSRO), a category of credit rating agencies created by the SEC and utilized by the NAIC to assess credit risk, assumed greater significance for structured settlements in 2019 when Texas incorporated NRSRO ratings into its Property Code as a requirement for structured settlements for minors.
- “Approved Lists” – Release 66 highlights settlement language some parties have utilized to resolve negotiating conflicts when plaintiffs insist on funding structured settlements with annuity providers which are not on defendants’ “approved lists”.
- Product Suitability Standards – Release 66 updates the book’s discussion of product suitability standards to include new developments by the NAIC and the SEC to better integrate the discussion of how structured settlement can be impacted by the Uniform Prudent Investor Act.
- ABLE Accounts – Release 66 updates the book’s extensive section on ABLE with a discussion of the “direct funding” issue setting forth both sides of the legal argument.
- Qualified Assignments and Qualified Settlement Funds – Release 66 provides additional analysis of existing regulatory guidance for complying with statutory requirements applying to each of these structured settlement funding methodologies.
- Non-Qualified Assignments – Non-Qualified Assignments represent an expanding market for structured settlement annuities and Release 66 continues to expand the book’s discussion of this market and the products available to structured settlement stakeholders.
- Secondary Market – Chapter 16 author Timothy O’Driscoll has updated this chapter addressing several developments impacting “best interest” and commutations among other issues. Note: Independent Life’s Payee Protection Policy arguably represents a new industry “best practice” for other annuity providers to review and emulate.
- Canada – Canadian structured settlement expert Brittany Gillingham has updated the Chapter 1 section about that country’s current use of structured settlements including cases that involve U.S. brokers.
- Charts, Graphs, Quotes – Release 66 features updated charts, graphs and annuity quotes provided by Timothy Morbach, Christopher Bua and Lindsay Thiel.
- WCMSAs – David Korch has edited and updated the book’s section discussing workers’ compensation Medicare set-aside (WCMSA) arrangements which highlights and explains the cost savings available from utilizing structured settlements in these types of cases.
CONCLUSION: As the United States structured settlement market continues to expand its scope, complexity and importance within the context of personal injury settlement planning, competent professionals confronted by structured settlement issues should have access to an up-to-date copy (or the online version) of this indispensable source book.