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
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
, “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
, 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
last week that drops two charges against Hank Greenberg, former
chairman of AIG, whom the board
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