The Vermont Structured Settlement Protection Act, like all of the 49 state structured settlement protection acts (SSPAs), says that a transfer of settlement payment rights is not effective unless it complies with statutory requirements, including the requirement that a judge approve the transfer.
The Vermont SSPA also provides that a judge can approve a transfer only if it finds that the transfer is in the best interest of the payee, “considering all relevant factors, including: (A) the payee’s ability to understand the financial terms and consequences of the transfer; (B) the payee’s capacity to meet his or her financial obligations, including the potential need for future medical treatment; (C) the need, purpose, or reason for the transfer; and (D) whether the transfer is fair and reasonable, considering the discount rate used to calculate the gross advance amount, the fees and expenses imposed on the payee, and whether the payee obtained more than one quote for the same or a substantially similar transfer.”
The Vermont Supreme Court has commented on the meaning of the Vermont SSPA, and concluded that when the legislature said “all” factors must be considered, it means that all factors must be considered.
Said the Court, in the case of Stevens Law Office v. Symetra, No. 16-421, 2017 VT 61, 2017 Vt. LEXIS 80 (Vt. July 7, 2017):
Vermont’s statute requires the trial court to issue express findings of fact based on admissible evidence directed at each factor in § 2480dd(a). Through consideration of each factor, no one of which should weigh more heavily than any other, the court determines whether a proposed transfer is in a payee’s best interest. Because the trial court here did not make express findings of fact on all factors based on admissible evidence, we remand for that purpose.
The Vermont Supreme Court remanded the matter to a Vermont trial court for further considerations.
The full opinion is available here.