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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, March 31, 2002

Insurers, banks among firms named

USA Today

Reparations lawyers sued three companies in federal court last week, saying they were "unjustly enriched" by slavery.

The companies:

• Aetna

The insurance company has in the past admitted insuring slaves for their owners and apologized.

Last week the company said: "We do not believe a court would permit a lawsuit over events which — however regrettable — occurred hundreds of years ago. These issues in no way reflect Aetna today."


The railroad operator owns rail lines that were built by slaves.

Last week the company said: The lawsuit was "without merit" and should be dismissed.

• FleetBoston

A Fleet predecessor bank was founded by a slave trader.

Last week, Fleet declined comment.

What's next

Reparations lawyers are readying suits against a second batch of companies they accuse of profiting from antebellum-era slavery. The second round of defendants is expected to include New York Life, J.P. Morgan Chase, Lehman Bros. investment bank and WestPoint Stevens, a textile maker.

The companies:

• Lehman Bros. and New York Life said they couldn't comment until seeing the lawsuit.

• WestPoint Stevens couldn't be reached.

• J.P. Morgan Chase said it hired an outside research firm to look through archives. Based on that review, "we don't believe there's any basis for liability," spokeswoman Charlotte Gilbert-Biro said.