Does anyone know a good terrorist? Hank Greenberg's looking for one.

05/25/2011 11:45 am ET
  • Doug Heller Consumer advocate and consultant to public interest and nonprofit organizations

Mega-insurer AIG keeps showing up in the news. Most recently it's because more execs may have been involved in "dubious accounting adjustments" than was originally thought. But that doesn't mean we should stop having fun at deposed CEO Maurice "Hank" Greenberg's expense. (See, he's had fun, and has gotten rich, at consumers' expense for years.)

Greenberg has been a fire-breathing advocate for limiting individuals' right to sue for years. Never one to mince words, Greenberg has threatened to boycott states that did not enact so-called "tort reforms" and has delicately expressed his feelings about trial lawyers: "I call the plaintiff's bar terrorists."

But now that AIG has cast him out on his hide, as multiple investigations expose possible fraud under his watch, Hank Greenberg - who gets apopletic at the mere mention of the seventh amendment - is threatening to sue!

Apparently, Ol' Hanky is upset that AIG doesn't want to let him take the van Gogh painting home from corporate headquarters. There's also a Remington sculpture, some fancy bath towels and cards from heads of state that Greenberg and AIG are fighting over. But Greenberg knows his rights and he's going to get himself a good lawyer and sue the bastards.

Greenberg has lobbied, quite successfully, for years to block the legal rights of injured patients as well as retirees robbed by corporate profligates and anyone else that might file an insurance claim. Now, I don't mind anyone exercising their Constitutional right to a trial by jury, but I do have a problem with people who make millions by taking away other people's right to a remedy only to pop off with a lawsuit when he can't take his pretty pictures home because he was fired for possibly defrauding his shareholders and customers out of billions.

From now on, when executives and politicians fight to take away people's legal rights, they should be forced to sign away their own legal rights.