Texas Courts Again Reject Imperial Finance’s Anti-Competitive Acts
Houston, TX, April 25, 2012 -- Texas courts1 have once again rejected Imperial Finance’s continued attempts to stifle competition and harm consumers. A Texas court this month slammed for the fifth time Imperial’s anti-consumer attempts to prohibit customers from selling their structured settlements to persons other than Imperial. Imperial sought to prohibit its customers from receiving competitive bids, requiring them to accept lowball offers from Imperial. Imperial Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: IFT), the publicly-traded parent company of structured settlement factoring firm, Imperial Finance and Trading, has been unsuccessfully urging the courts since 2010 that once it signs up a customer, Imperial was protected from competitors making better offers, claiming some form of exclusivity. Imperial used this argument to support its continued overcharging consumers, despite being cited by courts for charges which were not “fair and reasonable”2.
In an unprecedented fifth request asking Texas courts to support its position, a Texas trial court earlier this month again rejected Imperial’s arguments, telling its lawyers that the court's position was unchanged and that anyone could bid for the purchase of structured settlement payments. The arguments of L. Bradley Hancock of Greenberg, Traurig’s Houston office were again rejected. Industry sources have reported that the Greenberg law firm has received more than $1 million in fees in unsuccessful attempts to stifle competition on behalf of factoring industry participants, including J.G. Wentworth and its Peachtree Settlement Funding affiliate, in addition to Imperial. Industry sources have also reported that the Greenberg law firm encouraged these factoring companies to take these otherwise untenable actions with the courts, which resulted in extraordinary fees earned by them. Greenberg, Traurig, which itself is not free of controversy having seen several of its partners indicted in the past over billing issues and having paid multi-million dollar fines,3 and L. Bradley Hancock have been making similar allegations in other courts, so far without success.
Texas courts have continued to uphold the annuity recipient's right to continue seeking competitive offers. According to Stewart Feldman, CEO of competitor RSL Funding, LLC: "Imperial has been claiming that it has an enforceable contract when in fact it does not. The allegations of Imperial’s deceiving customers carry through to multiple lines of business of Imperial. Imperial has long used this threat to underpay sellers of structured settlements for their future payments.”
“For the fifth time, Texas courts again this month confirmed that Imperial's competitors can vie for sellers of annuities and provide competitive offers that are clearly in the customers’ best interest,” commented Paul McHugh, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for RSL Funding. “RSL Funding will continue to actively pursue owners of structured settlement payments to make competitive offers, leaving the customers and the courts to ultimately decide whether it is in the payees' best interest to receive more money than less,” says McHugh.
The ruling by the Texas court on April 2, 2012 comes on the heels of a Texas appellate court ruling4 striking down an attempt by industry competitor Peachtree, an affiliate of JLL Partners' owned J.G. Wentworth, which has thwarted Peachtree's attempt to improperly stifle competition. Industry sources report that J.G. Wentworth’s rush to go public, expected for this coming fall, may be related to the continued fall in discount rates which many believe will accelerate with the increased industry competition following the courts’ rulings. Industry competitor Imperial has seen its stock price fall 82% last year, earning a spot as the second worst IPO of the year, according to CNBC5. Advance warnings to investment banker FBR had gone unheeded.
For further information, contact the Structured Settlement Institute (SSI), a not-for-profit organization established to educate sellers of structured settlements regarding fair and equitable practices among providers of structured settlement transfers.
Contact: Structured Settlement Institute, Boynton Beach, FL, 1-800-409-1975
The ruling by the Texas court on April 2, 2012 comes on the heels of a Texas appellate court ruling4 striking down an attempt by industry competitor Peachtree, an affiliate of JLL Partners' owned J.G. Wentworth, which has thwarted Peachtree's attempt to improperly stifle competition.
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