PricewaterhouseCoopers plans to fight a $120 million jury award to creditors of defunct Ambassador Insurance Co.

"The verdict is inconsistent with the facts," said PwC spokesman Steven G. Silber, in a statement. "We intend to challenge." The accounting firm was the successor of Coopers & Lybrand, a firm that the state of Vermont, where Ambassador was incorporated, accused of negligent audits.

The case itself, which accused Ambassador's management and auditor PwC of covering up its weak financial condition and mismanagement, is decades old - the insurance company became insolvent in 1983 and was seized by Vermont's insurance commissioner.

Still to be determined is how responsibility for the award will be apportioned among the defendants, which also included the estate of the late Arnold Chait, Ambassador's president at the time.

Ambassador was a "surplus lines company," writing high-risk policies and lacking guaranty fund protection -- a safety net for policyholders -- in case of insolvency.

The Vermont lawsuit took so long to resolve because it languished, with related cases, in federal court in Brooklyn, N.Y., before being sent to a Newark, N.J., federal judge in the late 1990s, where the insurer had been located. The verdict came in late July after jury deliberations lasted just a single day.

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