The US District Court for the Western District of Michigan says that under Oklahoma and Michigan laws, viatical settlements are securities. The court, however, did not rule on whether the instruments are securities under Texas law.
Investors in a number of states had sued Trade Partners Inc. and its affiliate partners for viatical settlements that were sold between 1996 and 2003. They wanted the courts to have the instruments declared securities under Texas, Oklahoma, and Michigan laws.
The court noted that earlier in the year, it found that under the Michigan Securities Act, the instruments were settlements under Michigan law. And, based on relevant information and the fact that in 2004, the Oklahoma Securities Act was amended and viaticals became included in the definition of what constituted an “investment contract” securities, the district court found that under the Oklahoma Securities Act, viatical settlements are securities.
The court pointed out, however, that the only Texas court that had considered the issue did not find that the instruments were securities under the Texas Securities Act. It also noted that the Texas Securities Board had told a defendant in a state criminal case that viaticals were securities. Because of these conflicting authorities, the district court opted not to determine whether, under the Texas Securities Act, viatical settlements are securities.
A viatical settlement is also called a life settlement. In this kind of transaction, a chronically ill or terminally ill person can sell his or her life insurance benefits to another party.