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American General Life Insurance Co. v. DRB Capital, LLC

Court of Appeals of Kentucky

June 9, 2017

AMERICAN GENERAL LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY AND AMERICAN GENERAL ANNUITY SERVICE CORPORATION APPELLANTS
v.
DRB CAPITAL, LLC AND RAY THOMAS, JR. APPELLEES

         APPEAL FROM BOYD CIRCUIT COURT HONORABLE C. DAVID HAGERMAN, JUDGE ACTION NO. 15-CI-00843

          BRIEFS FOR APPELLANT: Michael Joseph Farrell Huntington, West Virginia Samantha Thomas-Bush Huntington, West Virginia

          AT ORAL ARGUMENT FOR AMERICAN GENERAL LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY: Amy Boyea Arlington, Texas Michael J. Farrell Huntington, West Virginia

          BRIEF FOR APPELLEE: Matthew Beatty Demarcus Covington, Kentucky Ray Thomas, Jr., pro se Ashland, Kentucky

          AT ORAL ARGUMENT FOR DRB CAPITAL, LLC: Matthew DeMarcus Covington, Kentucky Ray A. Thomas, Jr., pro se Ashland, Kentucky

          BEFORE: CLAYTON, DIXON AND D. LAMBERT; JUDGES.

          OPINION

          LAMBERT, D., JUDGE.

         This is an appeal from a Boyd Circuit Court order approving the transfer of payment rights in a workers' compensation structured settlement to appellee DRB Capital, LLC (DRB). After review, we affirm the circuit court's order.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Appellee Ray Thomas, Jr. settled a workers' compensation claim with his employer and its insurers. Under the settlement agreement, the parties agreed that Thomas would receive periodic payments through the purchase of an annuity. His employer's insurer assigned its obligation to make those payments to appellant American General Annuity Service Corporation (AGASC) via qualified assignment. AGASC then purchased the annuity from American General Life Insurance Company (AGLIC) to fulfill the obligation.

         Following these events, Thomas sought to transfer his rights in the periodic payments to a third party in exchange for one lump-sum payment. Thomas contracted with DRB for this purpose. DRB in turn filed an application to approve the transaction, which AGASC and AGLIC (collectively "American General") contested.

         In opposition, American General argued that the language of the settlement agreement, the qualified assignment to AGASC, and the annuity contract each proscribed an assignment of Thomas' payment rights. They also argued that the provisions of Kentucky's Structured Settlement Protection Act (SSPA), found at KRS 454.430 et seq., do not apply to structured settlements resulting from workers' compensation claims. After considering the parties' arguments at a hearing, the circuit court ultimately approved Thomas' assignment to DRB. The circuit court concluded the SSPA applies to workers' compensation settlements and further found that the assignment was in Thomas' best interest. This appeal followed.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         "The construction and application of statutes is a matter of law and may be reviewed de novo." Bob Hook Chevrolet Isuzu, Inc. v. Commonwealth, Transp. ...


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