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In Brief


Bank explores alternatives for brokerage armBank of America has retained Banc of America Securities L.L.C. as a financial advisor to explore "strategic alternatives" for its commercial insurance brokerage business, Banc of America Corporate Insurance Agency L.L.C. The Bank of America subsidiary, formerly Fleet Insurance Services, was ranked 27th-largest U.S. broker by Business Insurance last year, based on its $78.5 million in 2005 revenues.

ACE settles more bid-rigging allegations

ACE Ltd. will pay $9 million to settle issues arising from alleged bid rigging and contingent commissions payments investigated by the Pennsylvania attorney general and insurance department. In addition to the payment, which includes a $6 million penalty, the insurer agreed to comply with the business practice guidelines it established in 2004 after the insurance industry investigations spearheaded by then-New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. To settle those investigations by New York and other states, in April 2006, ACE agreed to pay $80 million in restitution and penalties related to its participation with Marsh Inc. in rigging excess casualty bids and for executing half a dozen allegedly sham reinsurance contracts designed to improperly enhance earnings.

OSHA to inspect 4,150 high-hazard sites

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration will focus this year's site-specific targeting plan for unannounced comprehensive inspections on about 4,150 high-hazard worksites, the agency announced. "Over the past nine years, OSHA has used a site-specific targeting inspection program based on injury and illness data," Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Edwin G. Foulke Jr. said in a statement announcing this year's program. "This approach allows us to focus our enforcement efforts on those workplaces with the highest numbers of injuries and illnesses."

AIG, Mass. reach Big Dig workers comp settlement

American International Group Inc. agreed to pay $58.5 million to settle accusations that it failed to pay surplus workers compensation funds to Massachusetts. An investigation by the Massachusetts attorney general's office found that AIG failed to pay certain surplus monies, related to residual market pool coverage, to the state as required under its contract as the workers comp insurer for the Central Artery Tunnel Project--a massive transportation project known as the Big Dig. AIG has been the workers comp insurer for the project that began in 1991.

ERISA doesn't pre-empt misrepresentation lawsuit

An employee who gave up certain benefits when he switched jobs based on his new employer's misrepresentation of his monthly pension can seek damages without his lawsuit being pre-empted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, said a federal appellate court. According to the May 8 decision by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Dr. Dale Thurman vs. Pfizer Inc., Dr. Thurman, a veterinary pathologist, was told if he joined Pfizer Inc., he would receive about $3,100 a month in a pension allowance. Relying on Pfizer's promised benefits, Dr. Thurman left his former job. But he was told shortly afterwards that the pension information he had received was incorrect, and that he would receive only $816 in monthly benefits.

Ontario court rules mosquito bite an accident

A man who contracted West Nile virus suffered an accident and is entitled to damages under his group accident insurance policy, an Ontario appeals court ruled. Being bitten by a mosquito carrying the West Nile virus constitutes an unforeseen, unexpected event caused by an external source--the mosquito--that falls within the ordinary definition of an accident, according to the decision.

Wash. governor signs paid family leave bill

Washington State Gov. Christine Gregoire signed into law last week a measure that will require employers to offer employees up to five weeks of paid leave after the birth or adoption of a child. Effective Oct. 1, 2009, employees becoming new parents would be entitled to receive up to $250 a week for up to five weeks. The law, though, does not identify how the new benefit would be funded, leaving it to a state task force to address the issue in the future.

Willis relocates New York offices

Willis Group Holdings Ltd. has moved to a new location in New York. Effective May 21, Willis is at: One World Financial Center, 200 Liberty St., New York, N.Y. 10281. E-mail addresses for Willis associates are unchanged, but telephone and fax numbers are new. Willis' main phone number is 212-915-8888.