Eliot Spitzer Sued for $90 Million in Libel Case

Former New York State governor Eliot Spitzer is being sued for a total of $90 million over an opinion column he wrote last year for Slate magazine.

Although Spitzer never named the plaintiffs in the column, William Gilman and Edward McNenney, two former executives of investment firm Marsh & McLennan, say Spitzer libeled them when he accused Marsh employees of being guilty of crimes and having been sentenced to jail terms.

In the disputed column, published August 22, 2011, Spitzer wrote that “many employees of Marsh… have been convicted and sentenced to jail terms.”

He added that the unnamed Marsh employees’ actions were 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 and McNenney were among eight Marsh executives tried in court for business crimes during Spitzer’s tenure as attorney general. In 2004, Spitzer launched an investigation into Marsh’s business practices and indicted Gilman on 37 counts.

He was eventually convicted on one count of restraint of trade and corruption. However, that conviction was thrown out by Judge James Yates of the New York State Supreme Court, who said new evidence “undermines the court’s confidence in the verdict.”

According to Spitzer’s article, he notes that the convictions were overturned, but that “Marsh as a company paid an $850 million fine to resolve the claims and brought in new leadership.”

“I haven’t seen the lawsuit and so will not comment on it,” Spitzer said in a telephone interview with Bloomberg. “The illegalities rampant at Marsh & McLennan leading to their fine of $850 million and the multiple judicial findings of illegality are clear from the public record.”

Gilman is suing Spitzer and Slate Magazine, which is owned by the Washington Post, for $60 million in damages. McNenney is suing for $30 million.

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