On May 26th, 2010 Judge Norma Ruiz denied a request for court approval to transfer future structured settlement payment rights to Settlement Funding of New York, LLC (Peachtree Financial). The opinion, is a direct response to the "cash now" advertising of this company. It's good to see a judge take the time to enforce the Structured Settlement Protection Act.
Judge Ruiz makes the following statements in her denial:
- "Turning first to the "fair and reasonable" analysis of this transfer: utilizing the financial computations of Petitioner included in the annexed paperwork, the discounted present value of $60,677 with a net payout of $17,340.00 would result in a final discount rate of 7l.40%. Such a discount rate is more than double that which banks are currently charging and more than even the steepest credit card rates of 29%."
It's important to note that the discount rate of this transaction was not 71.40%, the discount rate of the transaction was 17.9% effective. Within the documents submitted to the court, Peachtree calculated the discount rate using the gross net amount of $19,540 prior to deducting $2,200 of legal fees charged to the annuitant. In this author's opinion, this should be illegal. This tactic used by some companies is there to inflate the initial quote to the annuitant. Most companies in the industry do NOT charge legal fees. Legal fees are built into the initial quote provided to the annuitant.
Statement by Judge Ruiz:
- "Apparently, there is a growing proliferation of late night and cable television commercials by factoring companies promoting these transfers, utilizing catchwords such as "It's your money and you should have it now', These commercials leave desperate viewers with the purposeful impression that they will actually receive up-front, dollar-for-dollar exchanges as soon as they apply. Such disingenuous marketing serves to promote the financial gain of these factoring companies while undermining the integrity and legitimate purpose of structured settlements. Payees such as Ms. Feliciano, discover after they've applied for these transfers, that the illusion of receiving all of their money up-front, rather than later, is not the reality. Payees faced with difficult financial circumstances often relinquish the greater part of their structured payments because they believe they have no alternative."
Judge Ruiz hammers home the fact that the advertising produced by some companies in the structured settlement factoring industry preys upon desperate annuitants who feel they have no other choice but to cash in their future structured settlement payments. From this author's knowledge of Peachtree's cost of money, Peachtree would have profited approximately $23,000 before any overhead costs or expenses were deducted.
By shopping her payments, this annuitant could have doubled her payout by simply making one or two more calls. Our offer to this individual would have been approximately $34,000.