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Former Marsh exec alleges malicious prosecution, Marsh denies allegations


TRENTON—Another former Marsh Inc. executive has filed suit against the New York-based broker, alleging that Marsh set him up for malicious prosecution during former New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's investigation of alleged misconduct in the brokerage industry.

Former Marsh Senior Vp William L. McBurnie filed the suit in U.S. District Court for New Jersey in Trenton late last month.

Mr. McBurnie was indicted in 2005 on a variety of counts, including second-degree larceny in connection with the alleged bid-rigging. He denied any wrongdoing, and all charges against him were dismissed in 2009.

Among his allegations in the suit against Marsh Inc., parent company Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc. and three other Marsh units, Mr. McBurnie alleges that Marsh set him up as a scapegoat and violated his constitutional rights against malicious prosecution, rendered him unemployable in the insurance industry and failed to pay his legal costs in a timely manner. The suit seeks “in excess of $150,000.”

Marsh denied the allegations, and promised to “vigorously defend” itself.

“The decision to prosecute William McBurnie was made by the former New York attorney general and a grand jury of the state of New York—not by Marsh,” said a spokeswoman for Marsh.

“The company met its obligations to Mr. McBurnie by paying him benefits under its severance pay plan and approximately $5.4 million in legal expenses for the costs of his defense in his criminal case,” the spokeswoman said. “These defense costs, which were paid notwithstanding that Mr. McBurnie never went to trial, were acknowledged by his defense counsel to constitute ‘fair consideration' and the ‘maximum reasonable amount' of fees and expenses for which Mr. McBurnie could possibly be entitled to be reimbursed.

“Marsh long ago addressed and moved beyond the issues that were the subject of the 2004 investigation,” the spokeswoman said. “The company intends to vigorously defend against this lawsuit.

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