* Two former Marsh executives file lawsuits seeking $90 mln
* Ex-Marsh executive says Spitzer acted with actual malice
* Washington Post's Slate Group also sued
* Spitzer, Slate decline to comment
(Adds second lawsuit, details of complaints, lawyer's
By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK, Aug 22 Former New York Governor Eliot
Spitzer was hit with two libel lawsuits seeking $90 million by
former Marsh & McLennan Cos (MMC.N) executives over a column
posted on Slate.com about an insurance bid-rigging scandal.
The lawsuits arose from Spitzer's Aug. 22, 2010, column,
"They Still Don't Get It," advocating prosecution of corporate
wrongdoers and defending his own enforcement activity against
Marsh and insurer American International Group Inc. (AIG.N)
William Gilman, a former Marsh executive marketing
director, and Edward McNenney, a former Marsh global placement
director, contended that they were defamed by the column, which
appeared thee months after a judge threw out their convictions
on felony antitrust charges. Neither is named in the column.
Slate.com is owned by Washington Post Co WPO.N, and its
parent Slate Group LLC is a defendant in both cases.
Gilman filed his $60 million lawsuit in the U.S. District
Court in Manhattan, while McNenney filed papers seeking $30
million with the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan.
Both cases were filed on Friday and made public on Monday.
Spitzer, in a phone interview, declined to comment after
the first of the lawsuits, Gilman's, became public. Rima
Calderon, a Washington Post spokeswoman, declined to comment.
Gilman had worked at Marsh for 28 years and McNenney for 14
years when Spitzer, then New York's attorney general, in 2004
opened a probe into the company's practices -- including
alleged kickbacks for steering of clients to favored insurers.
Marsh, then the largest U.S. insurance broker, agreed in
January 2005 to pay $850 million in a civil settlement with
Spitzer, and eight insurance executives including Gilman and
McNenney were indicted eight months later in the probe.
Both men were found guilty in February 2008, but the
presiding judge threw out that conviction in July 2010, citing
new evidence. That case was dismissed in January. The other
indicted executives either were acquitted or had their cases
dismissed. Twenty-one others pleaded guilty. [ID:nN14291031]
In his complaint, Gilman said Spitzer defamed him in
writing, stating 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."
Gilman also said Spitzer defamed him in writing by stating
that "many employees of Marsh" have been "convicted and
sentenced to jail terms," when none had.
Spitzer had written the column shortly after an editorial
critical of him in The Wall Street Journal.
"While Mr. Spitzer's statements do not refer to Mr. Gilman
by name," Gilman's complaint said, "Mr. Gilman is readily
identifiable as the subject of the defamatory comments."
"Mr. Spitzer was well aware of his own allegations as
attorney general and the resolution of those allegations in
favor of Mr. Gilman and yet, recklessly disregarded these
facts," the complaint said.
Punitive damages account for half the amounts sought in
each lawsuit. "I don't know what possessed him to make the
statements that he made," Jeffrey Liddle, a lawyer for Gilman
and McNenney, said in an interview, referring to Spitzer.
In June, Gilman and McNenney accused Marsh in a separate
lawsuit of colluding with Spitzer to make them "scapegoats" and
avert potential criminal charges against the company. That case
seeks to recover unpaid compensation and other damages.
Last month, Time Warner Inc's (TWX.N) CNN canceled
Spitzer's low-rated television talk show "In the Arena," after
less than one year on the air. [ID:nN1E7651A4] Spitzer resigned
as New York's governor in March 2008 after a scandal in which
it was revealed that he had hired a high-priced prostitute.
The cases are Gilman v. Spitzer et al, U.S. District Court,
Southern District of New York, No. 11-05843; and McNenney v.
Spitzer et al, New York State Supreme Court, New York County,
No. 109628/2011. The earlier lawsuit is Gilman et al v. Marsh &
McLennan Cos et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of
New York, No. 10-08158.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Gerald E.
McCormick, Dave Zimmerman and Matthew Lewis)