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Liberty stands up to Spitzer

Sometimes — but not often -- some companies hang in there if they're convinced they are right. That seems to be the case with Liberty Mutual Insurance, which is standing up to — can it be — New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. Spitzer, as we know, has brought CEOs and boards of Fortune 100 companies to their knees to grovel. They have begged to sign huge settlements, thrown respected company executives to the jackals at Justice, and whispered non-“mea culpas” to the media, only to see their stock prices plummet or their companies left in threads. Now, Liberty Mutual, “the sixth largest property and casualty insurer in the U.S.” with $21.2 billion in consolidated assets, is challenging Spitzer's suit against the company. According to news reports, Liberty's motion to dismiss challenges the main bases for the suit: “that insurance brokers owe a fiduciary duty to their clients and that fees known as contingent commissions are bad and should be eradicated.” Liberty's gutsy action comes on the heels of the AG's office filing an amended complaint last week that drops two charges against Hank Greenberg, former chairman of AIG, whom the board ousted from his position after 38 years at the helm, allegedly after threats from the AG to go after the company — and whose office denied any such threat was made. Greenberg's not down and out yet. He's an 80-year-old billionaire and entrepreneur now with former AIG insurance affiliates C.V. Starr and Starr International Co. And, according to a Business Week article, he's still fighting mad at Spitzer and at AIG for dumping him. Greenberg wants his day in court to fight the charges. Spitzer, the self-proclaimed “People's Lawyer,” is not likely to move fast on either case — elections are coming up — and he's preparing for a new role. We all know that AGs are Aspiring Governors, don't we?