We all have been in negotiations that involve structured settlement proposals, and almost all plaintiffs’ attorneys have relationships with structured settlement brokers. Inevitably, when it’s time to place a structured settlement, the plaintiffs’ attorneys insist on using the structured settlement broker with whom they have a relationship. At first glance, this may not appear to matter to the defense, but in our experience, the selection of a structured settlement broker is an important decision that can contribute to the successful resolution of the case.

A structured settlement broker works on a commission received from the company with which the annuity is placed, and the annuity products they offer are not exclusive to the broker. However, some brokers provide better customer service than others, and in our view that is important.

There are valid reasons for defendants to insist on using their own structured settlement brokers. It is not unheard of for glitches to arise in the administration of structured settlements. In advance of any settlement discussions or mediations, and in an effort to resolve the case, defense counsel will ask a structured settlement broker to run proposals that will be presented at the mediation. It is only fair that the structured settlement broker have an opportunity to place the structures that he offered during the mediation should the case resolve.

More than a few times, I have received telephone calls from plaintiffs or their attorneys asking why a monthly periodic payment had not arrived. In those instances, I was fortunate enough to have had a relationship with the structured settlement broker who placed the annuity, so that broker was eager to help me quickly clear up issues. However, where the structured settlement was placed by a broker for the plaintiff, efforts to direct the activities of the plaintiff’s own broker or efforts to call the 800 toll-free service number of the annuity provider took quite a bit of time. Inevitably, there are simple reasons for glitches in structured settlements, such as changes of addresses, changes in bank account information, perhaps failure to fill out ancillary forms for the annuity, including personal identification information, and so on. For the defense, using a reliable broker who is committed to resolving any quality control issues is clearly beneficial.

When the plaintiff and defendant cannot agree on a broker, a possible resolution is for the brokers to share in the placement of the annuity. Please post to our blog any experience and comments you have relating to this topic.