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In re Kaufman

Supreme Court of Oklahoma
37 P.3d 845 (2001)


Facts

Through a structured settlement agreement resolving a wrongful death suit, John Kaufman (defendant) received a monthly payment stream funded by an annuity. The settlement agreement denied Kaufman the “power to sell, mortgage, encumber or anticipate the future payments by assignment or otherwise.” Despite that prohibition, Kaufman sold 60 monthly annuity payments to J.G. Wentworth S.S.C., Limited Partnership (Wentworth) (plaintiff) in exchange for a lump sum. Within a year after the transaction, the payments to Wentworth ceased. Kaufman filed for bankruptcy a few months later and identified the agreement with Wentworth as an unsecured claim. Wentworth moved the bankruptcy court for a release of the automatic stay in order to seize the annuity payments. In response, Kaufman contended that the purchase agreement was invalid because the settlement agreement restricted him from assigning the payments in the first place. The bankruptcy court certified issues of state law to the Supreme Court of Oklahoma.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Kauger, J.)

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