October 27, 2020

AIG agrees to drop trade secrets case for $72 million

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From The Litigation Daily

Is the multibillionaire Steven Udvar-Hazy a visionary who successfully salvaged his aircraft leasing business from the near-collapse of American International Group? Or is he a thief who stole AIG’s secrets and employees to start a rival company that profited at AIG’s expense?

With a trial on the horizon, two of the world’s largest aircraft leasing companies reached a deal on Thursday that will keep a jury from ever reaching an answer.

Air Lease Corp., a company Udvar-Hazy created in 2010, detailed the settlement in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Under the terms of the agreement, Air Lease will pay $72 million to resolve a lawsuit brought by AIG subsidiary International Lease Finance Corp. in Los Angeles state court. (ILFC was acquired by the Dutch company AerCap Holdings NV last year, but AIG retained control of the litigation and will receive the full settlement payment.)

The settlement comes three years after AIG accused Udvar-Hazy of pilfering ILFC’s business, and three months after AIG tapped Michael Carlinsky of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan to beef up its legal team. AIG has relied for most of the case on a team at Morrison & Foerster led by Arturo Gonzalez. MoFo remained on board after Quinn Emanuel entered its appearance in early February.

Udvar-Hazy co-founded ILFC in 1973 and helped turn it into a leader in the aircraft leasing industry. After AIG acquired ILFC in 1990 for $1.3 billion, Udvar-Hazy stayed on as its chief executive until 2010, when he left to found Air Lease.

In AIG’s April 2012 lawsuit, the company accused Udvar-Hazy and several coconspirators of using ILFC’s trade secrets to divert business to Air Lease and relying on ILFC employees to help establish their new venture. Their conduct gave Air Lease a “critical head start” and cost AIG “hundreds of millions” in lost revenue, the suit alleged.

AIG lodged more than a dozen claims—including breach of fiduciary duty, trade secret theft, conspiracy and unfair competition—against a slew of defendants. The suit named Air Lease, Udvar-Hazy, other employees who had decamped from ILFC, and a private equity firm, Leonard Green & Partners LP, that invested in Air Lease.

“This case is about a conspiracy to steal a business,” AIG’s lawyers wrote in an amended complaint last year.

Air Lease, meanwhile, has called AIG a disgruntled competitor, claiming it resorted to baseless litigation because ILFC couldn’t match Air Lease’s success. In a cross-complaint for breach of contract, Air Lease’s lawyers at Munger, Tolles & Olson blamed reckless and irresponsible management at AIG for helping to cause the global financial crisis, and claimed ILFC’s leasing business had been unfairly crippled by the resulting government bailout.

“When certain members of the ILFC management team, who were not involved with AIG’s debacle, sought to escape the paralyzing culture that AIG had imposed on ILFC and exercise their rights to pursue new opportunities elsewhere, AIG retaliated with broken promises, unlawful tactics, and misconduct that continues to this day,” Air Lease asserted in a 2013 filing.

Neither side admitted any wrongdoing under Thursday’s deal, which wipes away all pending claims and counterclaims in the case. Air Lease, which was represented by Carolyn Luedtke and Mark Helm at Munger, agreed to make two $36 million payments to AIG before the end of September.

Luedtke and an Air Lease spokesman both declined to comment on Friday, saying the company is bound by the settlement’s confidentiality provisions.

Quinn Emanuel’s Carlinsky also declined to comment. An AIG spokeswoman said the company is pleased the case has been resolved. MoFo’s Gonzalez, who led AIG’s legal efforts for much of the case, wasn’t immediately available to comment.

For more on this story go to: http://www.litigationdaily.com/id=1202724569948/AIG-Agrees-to-Drop-Trade-Secrets-Case-for-72-Million#ixzz3YWOGvznz

 

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