Spencer v. Hartford - Hartford Agrees to Pay $72.5 Million in Structured Settlement Class Action

Posted date in Jason D. Lazarus, J.D., LL.M. Settlement Planning

In a settlement preliminarily approved in June, the Hartford Financial Services group will pay $72.5 million to more than 21,000 people who received structured settlements. 

In Spencer v. Hartford, the plaintiffs (personal injury victims and workers' compensation claimants who received Hartford Life Structured Settlements) alleged that Hartford committed fraud in its settlement practices related to structured settlements.  According to the class notice, “[t]he lawsuit alleges that Defendants committed fraud in connection with the payment of structured settlements that were part of settlements of personal injury and worker’s compensation claims brought against persons or entities insured by Hartford P&C companies. The lawsuit alleges that the Defendants defrauded class members out of the full amount of the structured settlements the Hartford P&C companies agreed to pay by providing class members with structured settlements worth 15% less than their promised cost or value, and fraudulently retaining the 15% for themselves. The lawsuit alleges that Defendants violated the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”), 18 U.S.C. §§ 1962(c) and 1962(d), and committed fraud under state laws, and seeks damages representing three times the amount that the Defendants wrongfully retained as a result of the alleged conduct, plus interest, attorneys’ fees and costs.”

According to David Golub, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, "[i]t's a great settlement because people who have been victimized by corporate fraud are getting reimbursed."  Another attorney for the class of plaintiffs in this litigation, Dick Risk, said “most, of the 21,000+ class members were represented by legal counsel who allowed the defense to handle, in many cases, the largest financial transaction of their client’s life. Those claimants who settled with The Hartford subsidiaries during the same period and were represented by a plaintiff-advocate structured settlement producer were excluded from the class, presumably because they had knowledge or constructive knowledge of some of the practices used by the defense.” 

The litigation had begun back in 2005 and was hard fought ultimately leading to this settlement.  There may be other lawsuits similar to the Spencer litigation in the future as there are still similar practices being used today.  The case provides strong support for the notion that a personal injury victim should have a plaintiff based settlement planner assist them with what is usually the single largest financial transaction of their life. 

You can visit the website for the class action by clicking the following link