US Judge Denies Aon’s Bid For A Quick Trial

A federal judge said he can’t schedule a summer trial in the Justice Department’s antitrust lawsuit challenging insurance broker Aon’s proposed acquisition of rival Willis Towers Watson, a blow to Aon’s bid to save a deal that expires Septemer 9. In essence, the judge Denied Aon’s bid for a quick trial.

US District Judge Reggie Walton instead said Tuesday, July 6, that he plans to hold trial proceedings for a few days beginning November 18, and then again during an opening in his schedule from December 20-22. A decision could take weeks or months after those proceedings conclude.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the judge said that he faced a huge backlog of cases because of the coronavirus pandemic. He said that the November and December dates for the Aon litigation may slip, because he also is presiding over several cases related to the January 6 riot at the US Capitol, which take priority because of defendants’ speedy-trial rights.

“I understand the desire to try and get the case to trial as quickly as possible, but I think it’s impractical,” the judge said during a scheduling hearing.

Aon and Willis Towers, both registered in Ireland, announced their roughly US$30 billion deal in March 2020. They are two of the world’s biggest insurance brokerages by revenue, alongside New York-based Marsh & McLennan. The brokerages help companies buy insurance and advise them on risk management and are also major consultants to businesses on health and other benefit packages for their employees.

The Justice Department filed suit last month to challenge the deal, arguing the tie-up would lead to higher prices and fewer choices for companies and consumers. The firms deny the allegations, claiming the government misunderstands their businesses, as well as the marketplace.

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