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Ryan reflects on deals that powered Aon

They say hindsight is always 20/20, and that holds true even for Patrick G. Ryan, one of the masterminds behind the mass insurance brokerage consolidation movement of the 1990s.

In recognition of Aon Corp.'s upcoming 20th anniversary of being "Aon," Mr. Ryan, who was at the helm for most of those years, reflected last week about the deal that shouldn't have been and the deals that got away.

Every acquisition that Aon made had to have a strategic and cultural fit in addition to the right financial terms, he said. But there was one deal--the 1994 acquisition of London-based Jenner Fenton Slade Ltd.--where "the cultures just didn't work together" and, in retrospect, "should never have been made."

"I had just come off of having bypass surgery and the deal was floundering while I was out of commission. I came back macho (thinking), 'I can get this resolved.' I should have stayed in the hospital," he lamented.

When asked if he regretted not being able to acquire any particular brokerage, without skipping a beat Mr. Ryan said Johnson & Higgins--the New York-based brokerage that sealed a deal with rival Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc. in 1997 for $1.8 billion.

"We had some very involved discussions with them, but basically they would have played a different role within Aon than they did with Marsh and they choose that role as preferable. It was a good company," Mr. Ryan said.

Mr. Ryan said he also wishes Aon could have acquired New York-based Corroon & Black Corp. in 1990, but "they took a cheaper deal from Willis."

Son's breast surgery was appropriate, court rules

We may live in a "mixed-up, muddled up, shook up world" where "girls will be boys and boys will be girls," but not every teenage boy welcomes the prospect of becoming another "Lola."

That's why a New York court ordered an insurer to pay for surgery to restore a 17-year-old boy's masculine physique after he began developing breasts because of a condition known as bilateral gynecomastia.

When Steven Schulman saw that his son's condition was making him depressed, the father sought the best treatment possible: breast-reduction surgery. But Mr. Schulman's insurer, Group Health Inc., denied the claim for the procedure, saying that it was not medically necessary.

"This was reviewed by three levels of physicians--including the state-mandated external reviewer--and in all three cases the physician reviewers found no medical or psychological evidence to support the need for the surgery," a spokeswoman for New York-based GHI said. "We played by the rules."

So the father took the issue to court, where a New York civil judge ruled in his favor and awarded him $5,000 of the $7,500 cost of the surgery.

Judge Barbara Jaffe found in September 2004 that Mr. Schulman's son was unable to function as a normal adolescent because of the condition, which she likened to having a physical deformity akin to a clubfoot or cleft palate--the correction of which would normally be covered by insurance.

GHI appealed, but on April 3 the New York Supreme Court's Appellate Division agreed with the lower court and upheld the earlier award.

The GHI spokeswoman said the insurer has not decided whether to appeal the decision to a higher authority.

AIG reups with Mets as homers back charity

A New York Mets home run in Shea Stadium brings cheers, an appearance of the giant apple out of the Mets Magic Top Hat and, again this year, a charitable donation from hometown insurer American International Group Inc.

AIG is renewing its Homers for Kids program for the Mets' 2007 season, which benefits Queens-based youth charities. Each time a Mets player hits a home run at Shea, AIG donates $250 to a designated charity, with a different charity selected for each of the team's 26 home series. For each grand slam, AIG contributes $1,000.

Last season, the Mets hit 96 homers at Shea, and AIG's donations through the program totaled $29,000.

Head injury blamed on boss' husband

A workers compensation claim and a "negligent" dancing lawsuit are the outcome of an impromptu jitterbug move gone awry.

A 22-year-old Chicago woman is suing her boss' husband, who allegedly grabbed her by the arms while dancing at a work function in April 2006 and, without warning, flipped her in the air, according to a lawsuit filed April 3 in Cook County Circuit Court.

The move caused Lacey Hindman to land head-first on a hardwood dance floor, resulting in a fractured skull and brain injuries, said her attorney David M. Baum.

In addition to the suit that seeks in excess of $50,000 in damages, Ms. Hindman has also filed a workers comp claim with the State of Illinois, Mr. Baum added.

Working as a saleswoman at Shop Girl L.L.C., a women's boutique owned by Chicago clothing designer Kate Prange, Ms. Hindman was instructed by her employer to attend an after-party gathering at a local bar following a book signing at the store.

"It's our position that this (event) was a mandatory function of her job," Mr. Baum said.

While there, Ms. Hindman was dancing with a circle of friends and coworkers when David Prange "negligently lifted and flipped (her) into the air so as to land on the floor with great force," the lawsuit states.

Mr. and Ms. Prange could not be reached for comment.

Contributing : Louise Esola, Matt Scroggins,

Sally Roberts, Joanne Wojcik