In a head-scratching move, two former executives at insurance brokerage firm Marsh & McLennan have filed a lawsuit against Eliot Spitzer, accusing the politician-turned-commentator of making defamatory statements in a piece written for Slate.com last year.
Asking for $90 million, the pair, William Gilman and Edward McNenney, allege in the Spitzer defamation suit that the statements were made with actual malice, and though they are not mentioned in the piece, they are its "readily identifiable" subjects.
A quick read of the article makes it readily apparent that it is Spitzer's response to an editorial in the Wall Street Journal that criticized his involvement in the prosecution of AIG and Marsh while serving as state attorney general.
Defending the prosecutions as "proper and successful," he goes on to write the following in regards to Marsh & McLennan:
The editorial notes that two of the cases against employees of the company were dismissed after the defendants had been convicted. The judge found that certain evidence that should have been turned over to the defense was not. (The cases were tried after my tenure as attorney general.) Unfortunately for the credibility of the Journal, the editorial fails to note the many employees of Marsh who have been convicted and sentenced to jail terms, or that Marsh's behavior was a blatant abuse of law and market power...
Gilman and McNenney are apparently the two employees noted in the first statement, having been convicted of felony antitrust violations, which Reuters reports were later thrown out as a result of evidence defects.
The complaint still claims that the second part of that paragraph applies to the men, who are grouped in with the "many employees of Marsh."
From a plain reading of the above paragraph, one has to wonder on what basis the Spitzer defamation suit was filed. Besides making statements of fact and opinion, Spitzer seems to be pointing out that, while the Journal was right about the two tossed convictions, many others at the company were still convicted and sentenced.
- Spitzer sued for libel over article he penned (Bloomberg)
- The New York Attorney General's Controversial Suit Against the Insurance Industry (FindLaw's Writ)
- Whistleblower Sues Moody's for $15M in Defamation Suit (FindLaw's In House)