Search continues for one worker among 20,000 in AIG deposition

Steve Korris Feb. 27, 2009, 1:00am


EAST ST. LOUIS – As AIG hangs in suspense between nationalization and failure, lawyer Brian Wendler demands that the insurer continue trying to identify one worker among 20,000 who posted a comment about him on a website in 2002.

On Feb. 24 his lawyer, Michael Blotevogel of LakinChapman, asked U.S. District Judge William Stiehl to order depositions of witnesses Wendler deposed in 2005.

"Courts have generally held that 'good cause' for a second deposition exists where relevant information is produced for the first time after the deposition," Blotevogel wrote.

Wendler claims AIG defamed him by posting a newspaper article and a comment on a Teamster union website.

Wendler represents Teamsters in personal injury suits.

He admits the article accurately described his arrest on a domestic battery charge, but argues the author of the comment intended to harm his reputation.

Stiehl granted summary judgment to AIG in 2007, finding that it couldn't determine who posted the article.

U.S. appeals judges in Chicago revived the case last year, ruling that Stiehl should have decided a discovery motion before granting summary judgment.

AIG again asked for summary judgment, claiming it had no additional documents.

Blotevogel responded that AIG supported the claim with verified answers from Erik Szonyi and an affidavit from Arnold Felberbaum.

Szonyi's verification didn't match his deposition, Blotevogel wrote.

"Some of these answers are inherently implausible, others have changed significantly since Szonyi's first deposition, and others are clearly not within Szonyi's competence," he wrote.

"The verification makes it clear that defendants have books and records pertinent to the issue of whether defendants have useful information, as well as multiple employees aside from Szonyi who have relevant information," he wrote.

"Plaintiff is clearly entitled to depose Szonyi to find out what books and records he is referring to, what employees he has communicated with, and what information he has personal knowledge of, and conduct further discovery based on his answers," he wrote.

He wrote that Felberbaum's affidavit "strongly implies it was impossible for defendants to determine whether one of their computers accessed on July 18, 2002 because of a 90 day retention policy."

In 2005, he wrote, Felberbaum said he didn't know if firewall logs were backed up or if the policy was in effect on July 18, 2002.

AIG, the world's largest insurer, nearly collapsed last year.

Taxpayers rescued it and took 80 percent ownership.

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