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Pre-settlement lenders say rate cap could doom industry

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Representatives of businesses that provide pre-settlement funding to plaintiffs said they would be forced out of Indiana by a proposal to cap their returns at 25 percent, after which a House committee advanced a bill that would do just that.

The House Insurance Committee on a 10-2 vote advanced House Bill 1205 that for the first time would regulate cash advances for plaintiffs who have cases pending. The bill defines the business as “civil proceeding advance payment transactions.”

Supporters of HB 1205, including bill author and Insurance Committee Chairman Rep. Matt Lehman, said the bill is aimed at curbing abuses of an unregulated industry in which some plaintiffs have been charged fees equal to annual interest rates of 150 percent or more.

Industry representatives said they back regulation, but that the bill’s proposed maximum return of 25 percent more than an advance – for instance, a $12,500 payback on a $10,000 advance – would put them out of business in Indiana.

Representatives of Oasis Legal Finance and others testified that the industry provides needed cash for plaintiffs facing financial hardship ahead of settlement of their cases. They said the transactions aren’t loans because nothing is owed if a plaintiff doesn’t win a case or receive a settlement. Fees charged reflect the risks of a business in which 10 to 20 percent of advances are losses, they said.

An Oasis representative said the legislation was “an insurance protection bill, not a consumer protection bill.”

But insurance and business groups said the bill is needed to rein in what they said is a predatory business that can deprive litigants of their settlements and prolong litigation.

A State Farm Insurance representative acknowledged the need, but said nothing justified triple-digit interest rates. He also said litigation should “not be turned into a stock market for investors.”

Lehman said after the bill advanced that the 25 percent cap was negotiable.   






 

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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