In April, we described the protections that the Structured Settlement Claimants Rights Act, also known as H.R. 2212, would provide plaintiffs and claimants if passed. In a nutshell, the legislation would give plaintiffs and claimants the legal right to choose their own representation and expert when establishing a structured settlement. It would also make them more aware that getting a structure is a possible way to receive their settlement. These added protections would help prevent insurance companies and defendants from steering the transaction at the conclusion of a case.
H.R. 2212 is gaining momentum, and its supporters continue to voice its importance. Elise Sanguinetti, President of the American Association for Justice (AAJ), recently wrote a letter to Representative Matt Cartwright (D-PA-8) to express AAJ’s support for the passing of this legislation, which he introduced on April 10. Her letter below is a valuable read for all Americans, as it clearly explains the ways in which H.R. 2212 would fill in the gaps in the current protections (or lack thereof) for plaintiffs and claimants.
Dear Representative Cartwright:
I write on behalf of the American Association for Justice (AAJ) to express support for the H.R. 2212, Structured Settlement Claimants Rights Act of 2019. AAJ has supported similar legislation in the 113th Congress and supports this legislation again in the 116th to address the inequities in the structured settlement industry.
Structured settlements are used in the civil justice system, as a financial or insurance arrangement involving periodic payments instead of lump sum payments to resolve a lawsuit. This happens frequently in personal injury claims, when defendants owe plaintiffs monetary damages.
Unfortunately, there are limited consumer protections in place to help protect the interests of the injured claimant. Often, the defendant, who negotiated the settlement with the claimant, insists that the claimant use a structured settlement company that is affiliated with the defendant, and therefore may not represent the best interests of the claimant.
H.R. 2212 addresses the inequity problem by giving a claimant the right, in any civil action in federal court or before an administrative agency, to retain a structured settlement broker to act on the claimant’s behalf to negotiate a schedule for payments of the sum owed from the civil action. The court would be required to inform the claimant of this right at an appropriate time. Additionally, the defendant would also be required to provide timely notice of any relationship between the defendant and the structured settlement broker.
We appreciate your efforts to address this problem, and we urge other members of Congress to support this legislation.
President, American Association for Justice
Milestone believes consumers of financial products in litigation should expect transparency and reputable advocates. You can track the progress of H.R. 2212 here: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/2212. We also encourage you to reach out to your representatives and ask that they co-sponsor this bill.
A West Point graduate where he served as captain and military aviator, John Bair continues his commitment to our country through his efforts within the settlement planning industry. He has represented families of victims lost in the Flight 3407 crash, offered pro bono services to the families of 9/11 victims and drafted the first consumer protection bill for plaintiffs (H.R. 3699).