Eliot Spitzer Sued For $90 Million Over Slate Column
The libel lawsuit concerns an August 22, 2010 column that Spitzer wrote for Slate. The former New York attorney general was responding to a Wall Street Journal editorial which was critical of one of his cases, a probe he brought against Wall Street firm Marsh & McLennan, as well as insurance giant AIG. The probe was eventually ended after Marsh paid out an $850 million civil settlement.
In the Slate column Spitzer wrote the following about Marsh:
The Journal's editorial also seeks to disparage the cases my office brought against Marsh & McLennan for a range of financial and business crimes. 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: price-fixing, bid-rigging, and kickbacks all designed to harm their customers and the market while Marsh and its employees pocketed the increased fees and kickbacks. Marsh as a company paid an $850 million fine to resolve the claims and brought in new leadership. At the time of the criminal conduct, Jeff Greenberg, Hank Greenberg's son, was the CEO of Marsh. He was forced to resign.
It is from that paragraph that the lawsuits stem. William Gilman and Edward McNenney, two former Marsh executives, filed separate suits against Spitzer, claiming that they were libeled by the column (even though neither is named). Both were among the eight Marsh employees convicted on antitrust charges, but those convictions were overturned three months before Spitzer's column appeared.
In his suit, Gilman said Spitzer was guilty of "actual malice" and had defamed him, because, he said, it was clear that he was the subject of Spitzer's column. He also said that, since Spitzer wrote his column after the convictions had been overturned, he was being libelous in saying that Marsh employees had been "convicted and sentenced to jail terms." He is suing Spitzer for $60 million; McNenney is suing for $30 million.
Spitzer declined comment to Reuters, or to Bloomberg, which also contacted him about the suits.