ALDRICH v. MARSH McLENNAN COMPANIES INC

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Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department, New York.

George ALDRICH, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. MARSH & McLENNAN COMPANIES, INC., et al., Defendants-Respondents.

Decided: June 26, 2008

SAXE, J.P., NARDELLI, MOSKOWITZ, ACOSTA, DeGRASSE, JJ. Law Offices of David L. Trueman, P.C., Mineola (David L. Trueman of counsel), for appellants. Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, New York (Christopher J. St. Jeanos of counsel), for respondents.

Order, Supreme Court, New York County (Herman Cahn, J.), entered June 7, 2007, which, in an action by former investors in Lloyd's of London against defendants brokers arising out of the brokers' alleged failure to disclose, in procuring insurance for a nonparty manufacturer of asbestos products, facts relating to the magnitude of the manufacturer's exposure to asbestos claims, inter alia, granted defendants' motion to confirm a Special Referee's report recommending dismissal of plaintiffs' causes of action for fraud as barred by the statute of limitations, unanimously affirmed, with costs.

 Plaintiffs do not have a right to a jury trial on the issue of whether their fraud claims are barred by the two-year imputed discovery time limitation in CPLR 203(g) (cf. Nussbaum v. Steinberg, 269 A.D.2d 192, 703 N.Y.S.2d 32 [2000] [plaintiff not entitled to a jury trial on whether plaintiff was under disability of insanity so as to toll statute of limitations, and for what period of time] ).   On the merits, a finding that plaintiffs were on inquiry notice of the alleged fraud, and could have, with reasonable diligence, discovered the alleged fraud well before the beginning of the controlling two-year period (see Lucas-Plaza Hous. Dev. Corp. v. Corey, 23 A.D.3d 217, 218, 805 N.Y.S.2d 9 [2005], citing Watts v. Exxon Corp., 188 A.D.2d 74, 76, 594 N.Y.S.2d 443 [1993] ), is supported by the extensive information that was available to plaintiffs in the public domain.   Such information included the lawsuits commenced in the early 1980s by the manufacturer, first against certain Lloyd's syndicates and then against defendant broker Marsh & McLennan itself, both raising issues involving nondisclosure of material information in connection with the procurement of insurance for the manufacturer covering the risk of exposure to asbestos claims.   We have considered plaintiffs' other contentions and find them unavailing.