Hennepin County judge: Texas firm must provide records
- Article by: ABBY SIMONS
- Star Tribune
- February 9, 2012 - 11:20 PM
A Hennepin County District judge has ordered a Texas company to comply with an investigation by the Minnesota attorney general's office into whether it bilked a vulnerable adult, and possibly others, out of thousands of dollars in settlement money.
In an order filed this week, District Judge Robert Blaeser ruled that RSL Funding has 15 days to respond to the attorney general's demand for information. In December, the state office accused the company of stonewalling its inquiry into whether the company takes advantage of vulnerable adults and tries to circumvent consumer-protection laws.
The attorney general's office claimed the company has "utterly failed and refused to respond" to at least three requests for information.
In his order following a Jan. 13 hearing, Blaeser determined that there were "reasonable grounds to believe that there may be a violation of state law," based in part on findings from other courts that RSL Funding violated the law. RSL Funding's owner, Stewart Feldman, did not respond to a request for comment.
The investigation involves Tasheeka Griffith, 21, of Minneapolis, who sold nearly all of her $786,000 personal injury settlement for childhood lead poisoning to RSL and another company for a fraction of its long-term worth.
The state's attorney general wants to determine whether RSL Funding violated Minnesota's Structured Settlement Protection Act, which requires that a judge sign off on all transactions. However, the company did not respond to requests for the identity of its Minnesota customers and the names of the companies it uses for marketing in the state.
Structured settlements are widely embraced by insurance companies and the legal community to guarantee income for people who are sick or injured. With payments spread out, recipients are less likely to spend the money all at once and fall back on public assistance. They've also created a secondary market of companies that buy settlements, annuities and lottery winnings at a steep discount.
Abby Simons • 612-673-4921
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