BOCA RATON, Fla., May 11, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- JG Wentworth parent JGWPT Holdings and its president David Miller have been sued for colluding with competitors to fix prices in a recently filed lawsuit.(1) Among other charges, J.G. Wentworth, JGWPT, Peachtree and subsidiary entities have been sued for entering into an agreement with other members of the National Association of Settlement Purchasers or NASP, the trade association of factoring companies, not to solicit other NASP members' customers and not to make competitive bids to customers who have signed agreements with other NASP members, even though court approval was lacking.
According to Paul McHugh, spokesperson for industry watchdog The Structured Settlement Institute, "This JG sponsored collusion agreement is anti-competitive, unlawful, and is directly at odds with the underlying purpose of the Structured Settlement Protection Act, which regulates the sale of structured settlement payments in order to protect consumers. Peachtree and Wentworth are at the heart of this collusive agreement."
"Participating in an agreement not to compete -- especially one promoted by JLL Partners portfolio company, JGWPT, LLC which controls an estimated 65% of the market -- serves to promote the financial gain of Wentworth and Peachtree at the expense and integrity of the whole industry," says McHugh. In contrast, other factoring companies compete openly and freely with Wentworth, Peachtree and NASP member firms in the secondary market for structured settlement payment rights. RSL Funding, among a few other companies that have not joined this alliance, declined to engage in what it believes is illegal, anti-competitive conduct, an unreasonable restraint of trade and a deceptive trade practice.
RSL Funding is one of the few companies willing to make competitive offers to annuitants who have tentatively decided to sell their structured settlement payment rights. RSL actively pursues sellers of future income streams from settlement recipients in exchange for a lump sum payment and for the most competitive price.
"Smart customers shop rates. Judges question customers to ensure that the customers are getting a fair deal by requiring evidence of competitive shopping," commented Stewart Feldman, who has long been active in the structured settlement factoring industry. Feldman cited RSL as offering among the best rates in the industry, with Wentworth affiliate, Peachtree, and Imperial offering among the least value.
JG Wentworth and Peachtree today are controlled by New York private equity fund JLL Partners. JLL Partners' operations have recently experienced a series of setbacks in the courts where they have tried to pursue anti-consumer practices. Wentworth's deceptive tactics include numerous attempts at blocking clients from soliciting competitive offers for more money, and then using the court system to interfere with structured settlement agreements with competitive firms. "Another common tactic used by Wentworth is to have its customers "shop" its offers with sister company Peachtree, with the customer not knowing that Peachtree and Wentworth are affiliated and share call data, ensuring that they don't compete with one another. Customers are lured into believing they are getting a fair deal when the other company doesn't make a better competitive offer," explained McHugh.
"What appears to be a competitive bid is really an illusion," says McHugh.
In response to the actions of Wentworth affiliates to dominate the market, a Texas court recently upheld the right for RSL Funding, LLC to offer former Wentworth clients more money for their future payments(2) and to be free of claims for doing such.
Repeated inquiry to counsel for JG Wentworth and Peachtree, L. Bradley Hancock, a partner in Greenberg Traurig's Houston office, resulted in a demand that this information not be publicly disclosed.
1. Case No. 2006-23366, 113th Judicial District Court, Harris County, TX
2. Case No. 2009-78934, 334th Judicial District Court, Harris County, TX
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.
Structured Settlement Institute
Boca Raton, FL
SOURCE Structured Settlement Institute