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Attorneys general join Zurich settlement debate


NEWARK, N.J.--Ten state attorneys general have filed a motion in New Jersey federal court opposing the National Assn. of Professional Insurance Agents' stance concerning Zurich American Insurance Co.'s proposed class action settlement over its broker compensation practices.

In the PIA's amicus brief filed Sept. 15 in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey in Newark, the Alexandria, Va.-based association opposed Zurich's proposed settlement, objecting to the selective ban on payment of contingent commissions and mandated use of what the PIA said was a "flawed" disclosure statement that creates legal conflicts.

In their Sept. 26 responding brief, state attorneys general from California, Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia contended that the PIA's concerns are premature and more properly reserved for the final fairness hearings on the Zurich settlement.

In their brief, the attorneys general said the PIA's concerns about the disclosure statement are not "warranted" and do not assist the court in determining the fairness of the settlement.

"There can be little doubt that the settlement as a whole is fair and adequate and easily satisfies the minimal standard for preliminary approval," they attorneys general said in their brief.

The state officials also said, if approved, Zurich's settlement would provide at least $121.8 million to class members.

In a statement, PIA National Executive Vp and Chief Executive Officer Len Brevik said: "It is not fair to relegate the concerns of professional insurance agents to a late-stage, final fairness hearing. Since there hasn't been fairness for agents since the beginning of this process, we are not confident that there will be now."

Mr. Brevik said the PIA will file a formal response with the court next week.