Think It Ought To Be A Crime to Violate A Structured Settlement Protection Act? It Is In North Dakota

Think It Ought To Be A Crime to Violate A Structured Settlement Protection Act? It Is In North Dakota

The North Dakota Structured Settlement Protection Act, effective August 1, 2009, contains the standard disclosure, court approval and best interest requirements that appear in nearly all structured settlement protection acts, which are the state statutes that govern the secondary market for structured settlement payments.

The North Dakota SSPA (discussed here) closely follows the model SSPA.  But there are a few variations in the North Dakota SSPA.  For one, in order to approve a transfer, a court must find not only that the transfer "is in the best interest of the payee, taking into account the welfare and support of the payee's dependents," but must also determine whether the transaction is "fair and reasonable."  N.D. Cent. Code § 32-03.4-03(1).  In addition, the North Dakota SSPA expressly provides that a court may approve a transfer without finding that the payee is suffering a hardship. 

Another difference is that willful violation of the North Dakota SSPA is an infraction, and a second or subsequent violation of the SSPA is a misdemeanor.  See N.D. Cent. Code § 32.03.4-12 ("Any transferee that willfully violates this chapter is guilty of an infraction.  A second or subsequent violation of this chapter is a class B misdemeanor.").

While some state SSPAs provide that a violation of the SSPA can be the basis for a lawsuit against the company purchasing the payment rights, the North Dakota SSPA is, thus far, the first SSPA that makes it a crime to violate the SSPA.

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