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BSF Wins $4.3 Billion Lawsuit Against AIG for Client Starr International Company

Winter 2010

David Boies

The Wall Street Journal called it the "Battle of the Super Litigators," and if the plaintiff had been successful, it would have been the largest jury verdict in history. The plaintiff, AIG, was represented by star trial lawyer Ted Wells and his team from Paul Weiss. On the other side was Starr International led by legendary insurance executive and philanthropist Maurice R. ("Hank") Greenberg, represented by BSF and its managing partner David Boies.

AIG, seeking a record $4.3 billion in damages, alleged that more than 30 years ago when Mr. Greenberg was the CEO of both Starr and AIG, he and Starr had promised that Starr would hold the AIG stock Starr owned in trust to fund compensation plans for AIG executives. After four weeks of trial in June and July 2009 with daily media coverage, the jury took less than 5 hours to rule unanimously in favor of Mr. Greenberg and Starr.

In late August, U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff agreed with the advisory verdict and entered final judgment in favor of Starr. Judge Rakoff's opinion noted that the trial presentations "were models of good lawyering," and adopted BSF's position that AIG did "not come close to shouldering" its burden of proof at trial.

In a post-verdict interview, the jury foreperson told Bloomberg that BSF's presentation of Starr's case "was very strong and well documented."

Separately, BSF represented Starr and former AIG CEO Maurice "Hank" Greenberg in reaching a settlement on their remaining disputes with AIG on November 25, 2009. The settlement resolved more than four years of litigation, including cases in New York, Delaware and Panama, asserting billions of dollars in damages. In the settlement, AIG dropped all of its claims against Mr. Greenberg and agreed to pay 150 million to cover his attorney fees.

The trial success follows several earlier victories for BSF in the same lawsuit, including a summary judgment decision in June 2008 rejecting AIG's claim that it had a right to control Starr's Board of Directors. BSF also won a judgment on Starr's claims against AIG for the return of valuable artwork owned by Starr that was previously displayed in AIG buildings, including multi-million dollar paintings by Vincent Van Gogh and Maurice de Vlaminck.

In addition to Boies, partners Nicholas Gravante Jr. and Karen Dyer each examined witnesses at trial and argued certain legal issues to the Court. The trial team further included partners Robert Silver, Lee Wolosky, Christopher Duffy, Alanna Rutherford, Philip  Bowman, and Amy Neuhardt; and associates Richard Bettan, Avery Gilbert, John LaSalle, Vincent Liu, Ryan McAllister, Kavitha Reddy, and Theodore Uno. Partner Robert Dwyer, counsel Kelly Yuan and associate Rosaline Chan also worked on the settlement of the remaining disputes in November.

Related Lawyers: David Boies, Nicholas A. Gravante Jr., Karen C. Dyer, Robert B. Silver, Lee S. Wolosky, Christopher E. Duffy, Alanna C. Rutherford, Philip M. Bowman, Amy L. Neuhardt, , , John F. LaSalle, , , , Theodore H. Uno, Robert J. Dwyer, Kelly Yuan

Related Practice: Litigation