Sightings from The Catbird Seat
~ o ~
Mr. Ramani Ayer
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Published on: 4/30/2009 Last Visited: 5/12/2009
"The environment was challenging in the first quarter of 2009 and was reflected in both our life and property and casualty results," said Ramani Ayer, chairman and chief executive officer of The Hartford. "But our businesses were not equally impacted. We continued to capitalize on our property and casualty operations' strong franchise and we reported very good underwriting results and profitability. We also generated strong new business premium in several of our P&C segments, despite the economy. In our life business, equity and credit markets dampened sales and the performance of our general account, although we continued to grow our group benefits business profitably, with disciplined underwriting and pricing.
"Since the third quarter of 2008, we have taken a number of actions to strengthen the company's financial position, including securing a $2.5 billion investment from Allianz, reducing our dividend to $0.05 per share, and implementing a company-wide expense and efficiency program, where we are on track to achieve cost reductions of $250 million per year, by the end of 2009," added Ayer.
However, after evaluation of our opportunities, we may determine that the best course for The Hartford is to continue with a diversified business model," added Ayer.
"The Hartford's strong property and casualty business delivered another quarter of very good performance," said Ayer.
May 19, 2009
RE: CV05-00030 - U.S. Dept of Justice, David C. Farmer, Trustee vs. Bobby N. Harmon - New Exhibit: "Marsh & McLennan & AON have participated for decades in fraud and bid rigging..."
Bobby N. Harmon, CPCU
"President Barack Obama" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder" <AskDOJ@usdoj.gov>, "David Farmer" <email@example.com>, "Steven Guttman" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Carol K. Muranaka" <email@example.com>, "Judge David A. Ezra" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Judge Kevin S.C. Chang" <email@example.com>, "Judge Barry M. Kurren" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Securities & Exchange Commission Enforcement Division" <email@example.com>, "U.S. Treasury Dept. Office of Inspector General" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Office of Inspector General US Dept of Justice" <email@example.com>, "Executive Office for U.S. Trustees" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Judge Robert Faris" <email@example.com>, "SEC Office of The Inspector General" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Hawaii State Bar Association" <email@example.com>, "Charles Goodwin" <HONOLULU@FBI.GOV>, "Hugh Jones" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Insurance Division Fraud Branch" <email@example.com>, "Lawrence Reifurth" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Linda Lingle" <email@example.com>, "Jo Ann Uchida" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"ACLU Hawaii" <email@example.com>, "All Representatives" <reps@Capitol.hawaii.gov>, "All Senators" <sens@Capitol.hawaii.gov>, "Andrew Walden" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Aon Insurance Managers" <email@example.com>, "Arthur Rath" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Benjamin Kudo" <email@example.com>, "Bradley Tamm" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Carl Morton" <email@example.com>, "Charles Hurd" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "David Shapiro" <email@example.com>, "Dee Jay Mailer" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "J C Shannon" <Hapa1234@aol.com>, "James B Nicholson" <email@example.com>, "James B. Farris" <Farrisj@adr.org>, "James Cribley" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "James Wriston" <email@example.com>, "Jeffrey Watanabe" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Jim Dooley" <email@example.com>, "Joe Moore" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "John D. Finnegan" <email@example.com>, "John Goemans" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Judson Witham" <email@example.com>, "Ken Conklin" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Lyn Flanigan Anzai" <email@example.com>, "Margery Bronster" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Marsh Affinity Group" <email@example.com>, "Michael N. Tanoue" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Michelle Tucker" <email@example.com>, "Nathan Aipa" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Paul Alston" <email@example.com>, "Randall Roth" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Rick Daysog" <email@example.com>, "Robert Bruce Graham" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Robin Campaniano" <email@example.com>, "Samuel P. King" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "William K Slate" <Websitemail@adr.org>, "Jim Terrack" <email@example.com>, "Don Michak" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Rocco Sansone" <email@example.com>, "Ted Pettit" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Laura Thielen" <email@example.com>, "Vaughn & Lynda Robinson" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Rebecca Christie" <email@example.com>, "Catbird" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "James Duca" <email@example.com>, "Ian Lind" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Roy F. Hughes" <email@example.com>, "Malia Zimmerman" <Malia@hawaiireporter.com>, "Jack Cashill" <JCashill@aol.com>, "Marshall Chriswell" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Laser Haas" <email@example.com>, "Lucy Komisar" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Democrats.com" <email@example.com>, "Debra Sweet" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Jane Kirtley" <email@example.com>, "V K Durham" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "John Jubinsky" <Jube@tghawaii.com>, "Yamil Berard" <email@example.com>, "Global Exchange" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "William K. Black" <email@example.com>, "Carole Williams" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Susan Tius" <STius@rmhawaii.com>, "Human Rights in China" <email@example.com>, "Michelle Malkin" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Heather Vsn Doren" <email@example.com>, "Phil J. Berg" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Amnesty International U.S.A." <email@example.com>, "Michael Moore" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "California Anti-SLAPP Project" <email@example.com>, "Thomas Fitton" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Ron Branson" <VictoryUSA@jail4judges.org>
California Insurance Fraud Attorneys
The Law Offices of Nadrich & Cohen, LLP, a successful and aggressive California and nationwide law firm is seeking appropriate companies and/or individuals who have utilized Marsh & McLennan or AON as their insurance brokers for placement of insurance policies. Marsh & McLennan & AON have participated for decades in fraud and bid rigging by placing its clients' insurance with certain carriers solely to obtain additional commissions undisclosed to their clients. What Marsh & McLennan and AON clients did not know was that a secret commission was paid to Marsh & McLennan or AON for their insurance placement in addition to the disclosed brokerage fee.
Unlike markets for securities, commodities, and other financial products, commercial insurance is bought and sold in private. Insurance brokers such as Marsh & McLennan & AON are no more than middle-men who match up buyers and sellers in return for a cut of the transaction. Marsh & McLennan is the leader in selling property casualty coverage to businesses around the world. Industry wide, premiums paid last year just in the United States totaled $176 billion.
The bid-rigging scheme worked as follows: Marsh & McLennan or AON steered business toward certain insurance companies at designated prices. They then would solicit additional artificial higher fake bids from other companies to give the appearance to the client of real bidding. Marsh & McLennan did this even as it claimed in public statements that its "guiding principles" was to consider its clients' best interests "first and foremost."
By this activity, Marsh clearly did not consider its client's best interest "first and foremost."
The kick-back scheme worked as follows: Insurance brokers such as Marsh & McLennan & AON received directly from insurance companies additional secret commissions over and above their ordinary commissions. These commissions were paid for steering volume business to a particular company's way. Insurance companies called these fees "contingent commissions" or "market service agreements". The client never knew.
Critics call these commissions for what they are:
These improper fee arrangements date back for decades. Many insurance industry executives say it was known to select insiders that these arrangements were in place in order to boost insurance brokers' revenue.
However, these payments were never disclosed to the insured/client to which the brokers owed a fiduciary duty to. Critics and New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer maintain these practices are poorly disclosed and are a conflict of interest for brokers ostensibly acting on a policy holder's behalf.
Attorney General Spitzer has obtained documentation of employees of AIG who supplied fake quotes to provide the illusion of competitive bidding for Marsh & McLennan clients knowing; at all times, that another insurance company would nonetheless win the bid. Attorney General Spitzer's investigation includes AIG Insurance Company, Bermuda based Ace Insurance Company, Hartford Insurance Company and others.
Marsh & McLennan received $800 million in revenue from contingent commissions in 2003 - the equivalent of more than half of its $1.5 billion income.
Marsh & McLennan cheated its own corporate clients by rigging bids and wrongfully collecting huge fees from insurance companys for throwing business their way. They purposefully did not disclose these fees to their clients. If this occurred to you and/or your company, please immediately contact our experienced insurance class action law firm as we are vigorously investigating a class action against Marsh & McLennan and AON.
The effect of contingent commissions are that they wrongfully reward brokers for hitting profit or volume targets and thus provide brokers a financial incentive to choose one company over another, even if the other company offered a better price or better terms.
Nadrich & Cohen, LLP and co-counsel are actively interviewing Marsh and AON's clients for purposes of bringing a civil lawsuit against Marsh & McLennan and/or AON. The lawsuit's basis will be that the incentive fees or contingent commissions or placement service agreements paid in exchange for sending more business to an insurance company's way were in reality, wrongful commissions which defrauded the policy holder by not intentionally providing the policy holder with the best deal possible. The cost of insurance was also artificially raised, forcing buyers to pay higher premiums, thus further cheating buyers.
The lawsuit will seek to have contingent commissions declared illegal, recover damages for Marsh customers and forces Marsh & McLennan to give up illegal profits.
Nadrich & Cohen, LLP and its co-counsel are pursuing a separate class action to demand reimbursement to Marsh & McLennan stock investors because Marsh's wrongful actions devalued the price of the stock.
The Law Offices of Nadrich & Cohen, LLP is seeking clients of Marsh & McLennan who were victims of the undisclosed contingent commission bid-rigging and other anti-competitive activities. We strongly believe Marsh's actions harmed its clients by keeping their insurance prices artificially inflated.
Our law firm is an experienced and aggressive insurance fraud law firm actively seeking policy holders who purchased insurance through Marsh & McLennan or AON, Inc.
Companies that we know who are involved in the bid-rigging process included AIG or American International Group, Hartford Fire Insurance Company, Chubb Indemnity Corp., and other insurances.
If you or your business purchased insurance through Marsh & McLennan of AON, please contact us immediately. Nadrich & Cohen, LLP works on a contingent fee basis only. We are paid a fee only if we obtain a recovery. If we do not obtain a recovery our clients owe us nothing for our services.
* * * * *
May 19, 2009
Dear President Obama, Attorney General Holder, Trustee Farmer, Mr. Guttman, and All Concerned:
Due to the discovery of new facts, I am adding the subject Exhibit as it relates to this lawsuit which violates my Constitutional Rights of Free Speech and a Fair Trial, and Federal and Hawaii Anti-SLAPP statutes. You will find related information on-line at:
In view of all the facts that I have presented in this and hundreds of other Exhibits and witness descriptions, it is beyond comprehension that former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; Assistant U.S. Trustees Curtis Ching, Gayle Lau and Carol Muranaka; Judges Eden Hifo (fka Bambi Weil), Kevin Chang, David Ezra, Barry Kurren, Lloyd King and Robert Faris; Trustees Mary Lou Woo, James Nicholson and David C. Farmer; American Arbitration Association arbitrator Judith Neustadter Fuqua, attorney Steven Guttman, and others, can still claim that they were non-conflicted, fair, impartial, and unbiased in this case.
Mr. Farmer and Mr. Guttman, in spite of all this factual evidence (not just "political opinions" or "conspiracy theories" as you have previously alleged), I am again asking that we attempt to reach a global settlement of this matter through confidential negotiation or mediation rather than continuing these costly and seemingly-endless court proceedings.
However, if you, and your insurance carriers, are still not willing to attempt to negotiate or mediate a settlement, then I ask that you perform your mandated review of this new Exhibit in accordance with Judge Ezra's Order, and advise me if you find it contains any so-called "protected subject matter", and whether or not you intend to OBJECT to my filing a Motion to reopen this case.
I respectfully request your immediate reply. If I do not receive a response from you or your insurance carrier within 15 days, I will assume that you have found no "PSM" in these updated pages, and that you will NOT file any objections to my Motion.
Very truly yours,
Bobby N. Harmon, CPCU, ARM
March 2, 2009
Insurers mostly slide, though
AIG shares jump
By STEPHEN BERNARD, Associated Press
Most insurers fell Monday, led by the still struggling life insurance sector.
The sector was also mostly lower as American International Group Inc. reported the worst-ever quarterly loss in U.S. corporate history and said it would receive additional government support. Despite the AIG loss, its shares were one of the few to rise in midday trading Monday.
The KBW Insurance index, which tracks 24 of the nation's largest insurers, fell 1.9 percent to 50.75.
AIG said early Monday morning it lost $61.7 billion during the final three months of 2008 amid the ongoing credit crisis and recession. AIG's loss spurred the government to provide a fourth round of support for what was one the world's largest insurer.
The government pledged an additional $30 billion in aid to the company, on top of the $150 billion loan package AIG already received in November.
Shares of AIG jumped 6 cents, or 14.3 percent, to 48 cents amid the news as the government continues to ensure the insurer stays in business.
Greg Case, president and chief executive of insurance broker Aon Corp., said in a statement the additional government support will help provide further stability to the sector.
"Aon supports any action taken in the marketplace where clients will benefit from reduced uncertainty and volatility in the commercial insurance industry, as there is an ongoing need for capital in order to provide a baseline of stability as well as a continued flow of innovative products to help clients through this crisis," Case said. But, the government support for AIG showed little effect on other insurers.
Aon shares fell 84 cents to $37.40.
Most other insurers fell Monday as well, with life insurers leading the declines. Life insurers were hit hard last week as credit ratings agency Standard & Poor's cut key ratings on 10 companies that operate in the space.
Among the life insurers who saw their credit and financial strength ratings cut were MetLife Inc., Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., Prudential Financial Inc. and Conseco Inc.
All four were down sharply Monday after tumbling Friday, with Conseco leading the drop. Conseco shares were also hammered as the company said it lost $406.8 million in the fourth quarter and its independent auditors raised concerns about the insurer's liquidity.
Shares of Conseco fell 66 cents, or 54.5 percent, to 55 cents.
Among other life insurers, MetLife shares declined $1.14, or 6.2 percent, to $17.32. Shares of Hartford Financial Services declined 65 cents, or 10.7 percent, to $5.45. Prudential Financial shares fell $1.40, or 8.5 percent, to $15.01.
The life insurers fell despite a positive report from Citi Investment Research analyst Colin Devine, who said the sell-off among the stocks "seems completely disproportionate to the risks the industry faces despite the deteriorating economic climate."
In a research note, Devine said most life insurer's balance sheets were strong enough to handle the current credit crunch and ongoing recession.
Aside from AIG, the few gainers were mostly property and casualty insurers, like Travelers Cos., which rose 60 cents to $36.75 and Cincinnati Financial Corp., which gained 8 cents to $20.62.
Allianz invests $2.5B in Hartford; dividend is
October 6, 2008
1. HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Hartford Financial Services Group (HIG) said Monday that it
will receive a $2.5 billion investment from financial services giant Allianz (AZ)
Hartford Financial also predicted a steep third-quarter loss, and said it is cutting its dividend in conjunction with the investment by Allianz.
Allianz will buy $750 million in preferred stock at $31 a share convertible to common stock. The German firm will also buy $1.75 billion of 10% junior subordinated debentures.
Hartford Financial also provided Allianz with warrants to buy an additional $1.75 billion in common stock at $25.32 per share. The warrants expire in seven years.
Shares of Hartford Financial closed Friday at $27.40.
"This investment strengthens our ability to weather volatile markets and continue to invest and vigorously compete in our businesses," Ramani Ayer, Hartford Financial's chairman and chief executive, said.
WHAT HARTFORD SAYS:
The investment comes as Hartford Financial expects to record a third-quarter loss of $8.50 to $8.80 per share, mostly due to losses in its investment portfolio.
The insurance and financial service firm expects to take realized capital losses of $7.05 to $7.25 per share, or about $2.1 billion to $2.2 billion. About three-quarters of that charge is tied to investments in the financial services sector, which has been hit hard by the credit crisis.
Hartford Financial will also take a charge of $3.05 per share, or $915 million, related to the revision of its estimates of future gross profits, known as a DAC unlock.
Core earnings per share, which excludes the DAC unlock and investment losses, are expected to range from $1.50 to $1.60 per share, the company said.
Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, on average, forecast earnings of 71 cents per share. Analysts estimates do not always include special items.
In conjunction with the investment by Allianz and the increase in outstanding shares, Hartford Financial said it will slash its quarterly dividend to 32 cents per share. The firm previously paid a dividend of 53 cents per share.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.
Copyright 2008 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.
Copyright © 2008 FBIC (www.badfaithinsurance.org)
July 23, 2007
The Hartford Settles
Forbes, Associated Press
HARTFORD, Conn. - The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. paid $115 million to settle allegations it allowed illegal trading in some mutual funds, the company and state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced Monday.
Blumenthal said The Hartford paid so-called contingent commissions to insurance brokers and agents, accusing it of steering business in exchange for secret commissions.
The Hartford said the staff of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has concluded its investigation into allegations of market timing - the rapid and frequent trading in mutual funds that can benefit some investors at the expense of others - and the SEC would recommend against any action.
A spokesman for the SEC would not comment.
The Hartford took a charge of $66 million, or 22 cents a share, in 2005 to establish a reserve for federal and state investigations related to market timing.
Blumenthal said The Hartford "failed to act swiftly and strongly to stop and disclose market timing despite its duty to do so."
The Hartford did not encourage or invite the illegal practices, but it "knew the harm and was lax and late in halting it," he said.
Ramani Ayer, chairman and chief executive of The Hartford, said company officials are "pleased to have these matters behind us."...
The Hartford will establish a $5 million fund for policyholders harmed by improper insurance practices and pay $3 million each to Connecticut and Illinois and $20 million to New York.
It also will establish an $84 million fund to compensate market timing investor victims. The company did not admit or deny any violation of federal or state law as a result of the settlement. But it said authorities found that some employees of The Hartford engaged in "improper underwriting" by providing quotes for commercial insurance that were not based on an adequate assessment of the risk.
"These activities were not in keeping with The Hartford's standards," the company said in a statement.
The Hartford agreed in May 2006 to pay $20 million to settle an investigation into claims of fraudulent sales practices in retirement products, the attorneys general of Connecticut and New York said Wednesday.
The Hartford agreed to return $16.1 million in profit from the sales that Blumenthal and then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer of New York said were arranged in concealed financial agreements with brokers.
Shares of The Hartford rose 53 cents to close at $96.21.
Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
May 10, 2006
Hartford pays $20M to end
annuity fraud probe
Insurer paid secret kickbacks to brokers,
Spitzer, Connecticut Attorney General claim
By Alister Barr, Marketwatch
SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Hartford Financial Services said on Wednesday that it agreed to pay $20 million to end fraud investigations by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and Connecticut's Attorney General into the insurer's sales of group annuities.
Hartford said it will pay $16.1 million to affected customers, which included General Electric (GE) Consumer Finance, Tenet Healthcare (THC), and PricewaterhouseCoopers, the world's largest accounting firm. The remaining $3.9 million are fines that will be paid to New York and Connecticut, the company added.
The cost of the settlement has already been accounted for with reserves previously established. As part of the pact, Hartford said it accepted a three-year ban on the sales practices in question.
Hartford’s scheme involved secretly paying brokers in exchange for them persuading pension plans to buy Hartford annuities. The brokers also provided the insurer with inside information on competitive bidding, the Connecticut Attorney General's office claimed in a statement on Wednesday.
The illegal scheme helped Hartford generate roughly $800 million worth of business, reaping millions more in investment profits. Brokers received close to $4 million in concealed payments that were unknowingly subsidized by their pension plan clients, Connecticut added.
"The Hartford was at the hub of a series of secret conspiracies that enriched both the brokers and The Hartford as the expense of their customers," Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, said. "Our evidence shows a shocking systematic scheme that betrayed their moral and legal duties."
The scheme, which ran from 1998 through 2004, included brokers Dietrich & Associates, Inc., Brentwood Asset Advisors, USI Consulting Group, and BCG Terminal Funding, Spitzer and Blumenthal's offices said.
Instead of acting on their customers' behalf, the brokers became, in effect, paid representatives of Hartford, Spitzer's office explained.
Hartford tried to conceal the payments, which helped them sell over-priced products, Spitzer's office claimed.
Spitzer's office quoted a Hartford employee explaining in an email that the payments should be kept quiet: "If there is anyone we feel could leak, then we shouldn't have this setup with them. I think that is the whole point, if they talk, the deal is terminated. We just have to reiterate that over and over to the selected brokers..."
Spitzer also cited an email by a Hartford executive admitting that "Our prices are not competitive in open bidding situations."
Hartford shares climbed 26 cents to $92.16 during afternoon trading on Wednesday.
March 8, 2006
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE
WAL-MART STORES, INC., a Delaware corporation, and WACHOVIA BANK OF GEORGIA, N.A., in its capacity as Trustee of the WAL-MART STORES, INC. CORPORATION GRANTOR TRUST,
AIG LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, a Delaware corporation; HARTFORD LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, a Connecticut corporation; WESTPORT MANAGEMENT SERVICES, INC., a Delaware corporation; INTERNATIONAL CORPORATE MARKETING GROUP, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company; NATIONAL BENEFITS GROUPS, INC., dba MARSH FINANCIAL SERVICES, a Minnesota corporation; SEABURY & SMITH, INC., a Delaware corporation; MARSH, INC., a Delaware corporation; and MARSH & McLENNAN NATIONAL MARKETING CORPORATION, now known as J&H MARSH & McLENNAN PRIVATE CLIENT SERVICES, INC., a Delaware corporation,
No. 172, 2005
Court Below; Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware in and for New Castle County C.A. No 19875
Submitted: March 8, 2006
Decided: June 6, 2006
See: Wal-Mart vs. AIG, Marsh & McLennan, et al
~ ~ ~
Also see: AIG: The Un-American Insurance Group; Marsh & McLennan: The Marsh Birds; RICO in Paradise; The Great Nest Egg Robberies
December 6, 2004
Spitzer probes American Fin'l, Hartford
NY's top cop investigating legal malpractice insurance
By Alistair Barr, CBS MarketWatch
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS.MW) -- American Financial Group and Hartford Financial said Monday that New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer is probing how the companies write legal malpractice insurance.
Great American Insurance, the property and casualty unit of American Financial (AFG), is the target of Spitzer’s latest line of inquiry, the company said in a statement.
The Hartford Financial Services Group (HIG) disclosed in a statement after the bell Monday that it is also being investigated.
Arch Capital Group (ACGL), a Bermuda-based insurance and reinsurance firm, said Friday that it got a similar request from Spitzer...
Spitzer sued Marsh & McLennan (MMC), the world’s largest broker on Oct. 14 for allegedly rigging bids and accepting disputed commissions in return for steering business to favored insurers.
While much of the complaint focused on Marsh’s excess casualty division, Spitzer’s inquires have since broadened to include employment benefits, “finite” insurance and now legal malpractice insurance.
Great American said it began an internal investigation after getting inquiries from state insurance regulators following Spitzer’s suit against Marsh. That investigation is ongoing, the company added....
Legal associations sometimes endorse insurers, helping them to sell policies to their members. In return they get a fee for the endorsement, said Andy Barile, an insurance consultant with 40 years of experience in the industry.
Spitzer may be investigating whether these fees raised the cost of insurance for lawyers and if the payments were properly disclosed, Barile said....
August 8, 2004
Isle lawyer group against
insurance disclosure plan
By Rob Perez, Honolulu Star-Bulletin
Hawaii's main lawyer group is opposing a national industry proposal that is designed to help potential clients become better informed when hiring attorneys.
A committee of the American Bar Association, the national trade group, is proposing that the organization adopt a model rule that would require lawyers to disclose whether they have malpractice insurance.
Such information, which clients typically don't ask about, would be helpful when someone is choosing a lawyer, the committee says. Insurance protects clients if their lawyers commit malpractice.
The bar associations from New Mexico, Virginia, Washington, Illinois, Delaware and Ohio are among those supporting the controversial rule, which, if adopted, would serve as a guideline that states would be free to adopt.
But the Hawaii State Bar Association recently voted to oppose the proposal. Hawaii will voice its opposition when ABA delegates consider the model rule at a meeting this week in Atlanta.
Supporters of the proposed rule say many clients assume their lawyers have insurance, don't think to ask about it or are reluctant to ask, creating the need for an independent source of such information.
"Because of (ethics) abuses that have occurred here and the failure of the system to protect the public from unscrupulous attorneys, something like this would be very beneficial to the public," Honolulu attorney Madalyn Purcell said of the proposed ABA rule.
But Dale Lee, president of the state bar, said the board, while applauding the intent of the proposal, had concerns about practical aspects of it.
A system that discloses only whether an attorney has coverage without specifying details, such as policy limits, may give a client a false sense of security, particularly if the coverage doesn't apply to the client's situation, Lee said.
"It creates a problem that maybe is not anticipated and defeats the laudatory purpose that they're trying to accomplish," he said.
Supporters say that while the proposal has its shortcomings, it is better than having no mandatory disclosure at all, which is the case in most states, including Hawaii.
"In our view, clients already have a false sense of security" because they usually assume their lawyer has coverage, said Robert Welden, a Seattle attorney who chairs the ABA's committee on client protection, which drafted the proposal.
Asked if the Hawaii bar would support a tougher rule requiring details of a lawyer's coverage to be disclosed, Lee said the board didn't address that question, only the ABA proposal. He noted that the ABA committee on lawyers' professional liability has opposed the rule.
Attorneys who work at large firms generally are covered by insurance policies obtained by their firms. But solo practitioners and lawyers who work in small firms sometimes opt to go without coverage. Lawyers in Hawaii and most other states are not required to get malpractice insurance, though clients who hire attorneys without coverage take a big risk.
If malpractice occurs and there's no insurance, the client generally has no recourse, attorneys say. They say the client could sue the lawyer, but if the lawyer's assets are sheltered, little likely can be recovered.
For a disclosure requirement to take effect in Hawaii, the state's high court would have to revise its rules governing the legal profession. Many states follow ABA guidelines. If the ABA disclosure rule is passed and Hawaii adopts it, lawyers would have to disclose whether they are insured when they register annually with the state bar. They also would have to provide notification if their coverage lapses or ends during the year.
Anyone could then contact the Hawaii bar to check whether a lawyer has coverage.
As an example of what can happen when a lawyer is not covered, Purcell cited the case of one of her clients who last year successfully sued an attorney for malpractice.
Rieko Tanaka has a roughly $184,000 judgment pending against attorney Richard Y.S. Lee, a former state judge. But Tanaka has had difficulty collecting the money because Richard Lee doesn't have malpractice insurance, according to Purcell.
She also said Richard Lee has sheltered his assets, making collection all the more difficult.
In a written response, Richard Lee said attorney corporations for years didn't have limited liability when they incorporated, so for purposes of estate and asset planning it made sense to "structure one's holdings." Despite the jury verdict against him in the Tanaka case, he denied committing malpractice. He said he didn't care if insurance disclosure became mandatory.
In nine states, lawyers are required to disclose -- either directly to their clients or on annual registration statements -- whether they have malpractice insurance. Only Oregon requires lawyers to obtain insurance.
Several local lawyers said the Hawaii bar's opposition to the proposed ABA rule was not surprising considering the organization also opposed a recent change that made the secretive lawyer disciplinary system here more public. That change was likewise designed to help the public, but many lawyers believed it wasn't warranted.
American Bar Association
Hawaii State Bar Association
~ ~ ~
For more, GO TO > > > Confessions of a Whistleblower; The Silence of the Whistleblowers
# # #
MORE TO COME
For now, here are some more “birds of a feather” that
you’ll also find building nests in this tree...
ACE UP THE SLEEVE
AIG: THE UN-AMERICAN INSURANCE GROUP
ALLIED WORLD ASSURANCE
AMERICAN SAVINGS BANK: BEHIND THE BLINDS
THE BANKRUPTCY BUZZARDS
THE BERMUDA FRAUDS
THE CHUBB GROUP
CITIGROUP: VAMPIRES IN THE CITY
CONFESSIONS OF A WHISTLEBLOWER
A CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING KAMEHAMEHA’S COURT
THE CROSSROADS GROUP
DIRTY GOLD IN GOLDMAN SACHS
DIRTY MONEY, DIRTY POLITICS & BISHOP ESTATE
FIRST INSURANCE COMPANY OF HAWAII
THE GREAT NEST EGG ROBBERIES
HAWAIIAN AIR LINES
LETTERS TO THE FBI
LETTER TO THE IRS
HAWAIIAN INSURANCE COMPANIES
I SING THE HAWAIIAN ELECTRIC
THE KAMEHAMEHA SCHOOLS PENSION PLAN
KEMPER INSURANCE COMPANIES
MARSH & McLENNAN: THE MARSH BIRDS
MARSH & McLENNAN’S GUY CARPENTER
MARSH & McLENNAN’S PUTNAM
THE PRUDENTIAL: A NEST ON SHAKY GROUND
RICO IN PARADISE
THE SILENCE OF THE WHISTLEBLOWERS
THE TORCH OF ERIC SHINE
THE POOP ON AON
THE ROYAL & SUNAMERICA
TRANSYLVANIA TRAVELERS IN ST. PAUL
VAMPIRES IN THE VESTA INSURANCE GROUP
WHAT PRICE WATERHOUSE?
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Last Update May 19, 2009, by The Catbird