Accident victims are suing New York Liquidation - Edward Stone by liuhongmeiyes

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          DAILY NEWS




           New York


           Accident victims are suing New York Liquidation
           Bureau as state agency slashes their payments
           Victims received handsome settlements after their injuries and money was put into lifetime
           annuities. But NYLB, which takes over defunct insurance companies, is cutting payouts by as much
           as 60 percent

           BY GINGER ADAI/S OTIS / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

           TUESDAY JANUARY 8.2013, 11:23 PM




                                                                                           BRYAN SI\TITH FOR NEWYORK DAILYNEV\IS

           Eric RabinorviE lost his right eye as an infant in a botched operation-


           They're living with chronic pain, and now facing poverty too.


           Manhattanite Eric Rabinowitz, 44, was only 1-year-old when a surgeon botched his cataract operation,
           leaving him fully blind in one eye and with limited vision in the other


           Gina Cunningham, 57, was a young mother biking in Little ltaly 29 years ago when a cement truck nearly
           severed her leg.


           Hector Sanchez, 43, was '14 when a city bus mowed him down, leaving him with limited mobility


           Timothy Culhane, 62, was working construction near the World Trade Center in 1980 when he tripped on a
           conduit pipe and fell seven stories after a protective perimeter cable failed to save him.


           They all sued and got handsome settlements that were put into lifetime annuities -- guaranteeing thdm fixed
           monthly income that they depend on to cover food, mortgages and rent, and medical bills


           Except now those payments are being slashed -- some by as much as 66%, said Edward Stone, a lawyer
           that's filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of these victims



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Accident victims are suing New York Liquidation Brueau as state agency... http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/accident-victims-sue-new-york...


          "lt's unconscionable We were told we had a lifetime guarantee on our settlements," said Rabinowitz, who
          uses his monthly payouts to cover his health insurance, rent and other bills




         A cement truck nearly severed Gina Cunningham's leg in 1984.


          "l depend on this money to survive   "



          Rabinowitzwon his lawsuit in 1983, when he was 14, and got a hefty settlement At the judge's order, it was
          invested in a lifetime annuity with an insurance company that promised Rabinowitz, who can't work, financial
          security


          Now, his settlement is being cut by 55 percent bythe l.lew York Liquidation Bureau (NYLB), a little-known
          state agency that takes over defunct insurance compantes.


          Rabinowitz's insurance company -- Executive Life of l,lew York -- went belly-up in   '1991




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Accident victims are suing New York Liquidation Bureau as state agency... http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/accident-victims-sue-new-yor.k...




                                                                                              BRYN SMITH FOR NEWYORK DALY NEWS

           Dana Estes of California was iniured in a 1981 fire.


           Its $3 billion in assets were seized by NY's Superintendeni of Life Insurance and turned over to the NYLB,
           which pledged to manage the estate in perpetuity to make sure the financial settlements to accident victims
           like Rabinowitz were honored


           But, according to the class-action lawsuit against the agency filed in Manhattan Federal Court in November
           2012, the NYLB mismanaged the money so badly it quickly wound up $1 billion in the hole


           The agency -- which refused multiple times in recent decades to open its books for the Stab Comptroller           -
           admitted in court last April that its ELNY fund is hopelessly insolvent and can't meet its long-term disability
           payouts


           The only clue to its looming financial disaster came in 2007, when Rabinowitzwas asked to appear at a
           press conference with then Gov Eliot Spitzer The crusading Spitzer had noticed a discrepancy in the NYLB
           books and his administration arm-twisted other insurance companies to make up some of the shortfall.
           Spitzer held a press conference to trumpet the success


           "They said they'd fixed everything, that my settlements were going to be okay They sent a limo to bring me
           to the press conference." said Rabinowitz


           The problem was, the financing wasn't solid   -   and the NYLB now admits that the deal fell apart soon after


           The promised money from other insurance companies never came, and when the global economy tanked not
           long after, the ELNY fund was drained to its dregs


           Now Rabinowitz and 1,500 other accident victims nationwide are being told the monthly checks they rely on
           could be slashed by up to 66 percent -- and the class-action lawsuit they filed in response got them slapped
           with a contempt of court injunction from the NYLB.




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Accident victims are suing New York Liquidation Bureau as state agency... http://www.nydaily'news.com/new-york/accident-victims-sue-new-york...


          "This whole situation is a travesty, and the idea that we're in contempt of court is beyond insulting," said
                                                                                                                       Gina
          Cunninghan.


          Cunningham was biking with her 4-year-old daughter in Little ltaly 29 years ago when a cement truck ran a
          red light She shoved her daughter from its path but nearly lost her own leg in the process After many
          reconstrucive surgeries she regained minimal mobility, but is limited in what she can oo.


          She now stands to lose 47 percent of her monthly payouts.


          "l depended on this for retirement, and now I find out my settlement was not taken care of, my retirement
          has been pilfered and stolen, and I never knew anything aboLrt it," she said.


          Hector Sanchez was a teenager when the judge handling his case with the city put his money in a structured
          settlement, just like Cunningham and Rabinowitz Thanks to Hurricane Sandy, Sanchez now lives entirely off
          his monthly payouts.


          "l lost my home in Hurricane Sandy, it was destroyed, and this money is what's keeping a roof over my
          head," said Sanchez, who was hit by a bus and can't use his left leg very well


          He was promised $1 ,200 a month with an annual 4 percent increase starting when he          was   18,


          "Now they want to cut it by 56 percent I rely on that money now and I was planning to rely on it when l'm
          older," said Sanchez "lf I had known something like this could happen I would have made different
          decisions. "


         Timothy Culhane, who now lives in Fort Lauderdale, had to have had multiple surgeries after his seven-story
         plummet When he first got a letter from the NYLB in December 2011 saying his payments were to be cut,
         he thought it was a bad joke.


          "lt was my worst nightmare to cut me 52 percent of what I was receiving,'' he said, adding that he's since put
          his house up for sale for fear he won't be able to meet his payments


         "l need that money to make life a little more bearable. I know that they did something wrong and I hope that
         the truth comes out," he said


         The NYLB declined to comment to the Daily News but noted that it has set up a hardship fund for the 1,500
         accident victims affected by its decision to liquidate the fund and cut payments. They can appeal to the
         hardship fund for extra help, an NYLB spokesrnan said


         In 2008, when then-Gov. David Paterson finally forced an audit on the self-run agency, inspectors discovered
         the fund for accident victims had $'1 .4 billion in assets and $2 6 billion in liabilities The NYLB had a "historv of
         fraud and mismanagement," the report found.


         With Christina Boyle


         gotis@nydailynews com




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