Reforms to Structured Settlement Payment Transfer Petitions in Maryland's Prince George's County Circuit Court

As I recently wrote in a news post here, lawmakers have harshly criticized and called for investigation and regulation of the periodic payments purchases by factoring companies in Maryland who are buying out future payments from lead-paint victims holding structured settlement annuity payments rights.

Read Also: Cash for structured settlement in Virginia - 'Nobody Wants To End Up On the Front Page of the Washington Post'

The development came after one payments buying company, Access Funding, was reported to having bought out structured settlement payments dozens, perhaps hundreds of times, petitioning the courts in Maryland.

According to reports, the mentioned company got the approval for petitioned structured settlement payment transfers 90 percent of the times by the same judge of Prince George's Country Circuit Court, Mr. Dawson.

In many cases of the settlement transfer agreements, only initials of the payment sellers were reportedly documented in the court papers, a move the company has defended as a means to protect the privacy of the payment sellers.

Now, according to a Washington Post report, some corrections have already been made in the Prince George's County Circuit Court, as follows. These reforms are expected have a significant impact on future structured settlement payment transfer petitions.

Here are some of the reforms:

  • sellers will have to show up personally at the mandatory court hearing

  • Independent professional advisers will also have to appear at the court hearing. This is a substantial reform, as Maryland, just like a number of other states require that settlement payment sellers get outside professional advise in selling their structured settlement payments before being able to get a court approval; however, it is uncommon to require the advisers to show up in court. In the a.m. court, this will now be imperative in order for sellers to obtain approval to the sale of the structure settlement annuity payment rights.

  • sellers' full names, not only their initials, will have to be filed in the court petition

  • Judge Dawson will no longer preside over the payment transfer transactions

    Not all states require outside professional advise for approval of settlement payment transfers, but in Maryland where it is required by law, the adviser is not to be affiliated with the company purchasing the structured settlement payments. What was striking in the Access Funding cases were the following facts:

  • The same adviser was named on a large number of the petitioned transfers

  • The vast majority of petitions had only the initials of the sellers, not their full names, or other relevant personal information

  • the same attorney was involved in a number of cases

  • the same court was petitioned

  • the judge approved the overwhelming majority of the petitioned transfers

    In some States, it is required for the factoring company to file the petition in the county where the seller is domicile. This is the law in NY, among other States. In North Carolina, it has also become law in a recent amendment, as you can read here.

    However, in a number of other states it is not required, and so payment purchasing companies can seek out a court in a certain county where the judges are known to more easily approve of a petitioned structured settlement cash out agreement. This is currently the state of affairs in Maryland.

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