Thursday, 10 July 2008

Marsh settlements - closure?

Two stories in the news about Marsh this week caught my eye.

First was Advisen Senior Legal Analyst Anne Wallace's summary of an update to one of the nearly 9,000 cases in Advisen's large loss database of litigation which talks of the closure or final settlements stemming from the Spitzer investigation:
On July 3, 2008, attorneys for Marsh filed a Settlement Agreement and Brief in support of settlement of the Multidistrict Litigation entitled “In Re Insurance Brokerage Antitrust Litigation” filed in 2004.

This action alleged that insurance companies and insurance brokerage firms worked with one another to allocate customers and markets resulting in charging and collecting inflated premiums from policyholders.

The district court dismissed plaintiffs’ federal antitrust and RICO claims in the commercial case. Plaintiffs’ third attempted appeal has been withdrawn in favor of this settlement.

This Settlement is funded by the undistributed remainder of the earlier NYAG settlement, which totals about $69 million. $62 million will form the Litigation Settlement Fund; $5 million of this fund will be to resolve state claims. The remaining $7 million will be available to Marsh to settle the remaining “tag along” cases.

All parties have agreed with this settlement and set a final fairness hearing date of August 8, 2008.

When settlement is approved, this will bring to a close a large chapter in this 4 year saga for the insurance industry.

The class for this settlement does not include any valid “opt-out” plaintiffs or any party that has benefited from any prior “actual or threatened or other proceeding…concerning their purchase of Insurance, including but not limited to any Participating Policyholders in the NYAG Settlement Agreement”.

The class plaintiffs have previously settled with both the Zurich and Gallagher Defendants for $121.8 and $28 million respectively.

Second was the story by Liam Pleven of the Wall Street Journal (story here) which talks about how authorities in NY are reconsidering the settlements and opening the door to potential reinstatement of contingent commissions in some form. Liam's articles states how Marsh has a lot riding on this.

So is it closure? With European brokers reinstating these fees at 2.5% of premium and the EU to review this and potentially New York reconsidering, could we see these come back? I know our friends at AIRMIC and RIMS will have a lot to say about this, or should.

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