When former American International Group (AIG) CEO Hank Greenberg sued the federal government over the terms of the 2008 bailout, saying that the shareholders had been shortchanged, the left pilloried Greenberg as a plutocrat out for revenge. Ed Schulz of MSNBC called it “one man’s vengeance” and suggested that AIG’s board, which Greenberg approached to join the suit, should “throw him out of the room.”
On Monday, a federal court certified a class action lawsuit, ruling that Greenberg was not out for himself but for a vast group of ordinary shareholders--including unions, pension funds, and individual investors. Specifically, the court created two classes--one composed of shareholders who held common stock on Sep. 22, 2008 (the date of the bailout deal with the New York Federal Reserve Bank), and the other composed of those who held stock on June 30, 2009, when shareholders were denied a vote on a reverse stock split.
In a further irony, the court appointed David Boies as class counsel for both classes--the same David Boies who represented former Vice President Al Gore in Bush v. Gore, the same David Boies who is leading the fight to overturn California’s Proposition 8, which bans gay marriage, the same David Boies who remains a legendary liberal legal icon.
According to Judge Thomas Wheeler, Greenberg’s suit may represent literally “tens of thousands” of investors--not a rich few, but the many who were damaged by the bailout terms.
As Breitbart News noted at the time, AIG decided to stay out of the lawsuit for political reasons, fearing that suing the federal government over a taxpayer bailout could lead to a public backlash amidst the company’s “thank you” advertising campaign.
Greenberg has long maintained that AIG could have survived the 2008 financial crisis without a federal bailout. He resigned from AIG in 2005 under pressure from then-New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.