On Dec. 7, 2011 the New York Liquidation Bureau sent letters to 10,000 recipients of ELNY structured settlement annuities, informing them that ELNY was insolvent and would be liquidated in the spring of 2012, following a hearing scheduled for March 15. For ELNY payees, liquidation meant that many would see dramatically smaller monthly payments going forward.

The letter stated that all objections must be received by Jan. 15, 2012, giving annuitants a brief few days during the holiday season to find a lawyer, draft an objection letter, and get it mailed — if they even opened it, that is. Rather than including notice of the liquidation as part of their regular correspondance with annuitants, the liquidation letter was mailed separately and looked suspiciously like junk mail. While we don’t know precisely how many letters were read and how many were discarded, the data from ELNY’s website and call center during the month after the letter was sent paints the picture in broad brushstrokes.