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Contempt hearing set in Brown & Brown poaching case

Posted On: Jan. 20, 2017 12:57 PM CST

A Florida judge has scheduled a hearing on whether a rival broker that hired several of Brown & Brown Inc.’s employees, and the employees themselves, should be held in contempt and sanctioned for violating a temporary injunction by soliciting its customers.

Daytona Beach, Florida-based Brown & Brown has charged that eight of its employees were hired by Lake Mary, Florida-based AssuredPartners Inc. in violation of their employment agreements. They had left Brown & Brown and joined AssuredPartners in May.

On Tuesday, Judge Christopher France of the 7th Judicial District in Volusia County, Daytona Beach, set March 2 for a hearing on whether AssuredPartners and the employees should be held in contempt for violating the court’s temporary injunction, which was issued on Oct. 24, 2016.

The temporary injunction prohibits the defendants from “further breaching” restrictive covenants that say the former employees cannot work for another company in the insurance business for two years after termination of their Brown & Brown employment, nor disclose confidential information. 

 In issuing the temporary injunction, the court said Brown & Brown “had demonstrated a substantial likelihood of succession the litigation.”

In seeking the hearing, Brown & Brown had filed a motion on Dec. 20, which charged that in the previous week it had discovered through emails that were inadvertently sent to the defendants’ old Brown & Brown email accounts that they were continuing to service its customers and failing to inform the clients of the injunction.

The motion says the defendants solicited Brown & Brown customers “when they have repeatedly represented to this court that there is no evidence of solicitation, which their recent productions show to be false.”

"The Court set a hearing date to address Brown & Brown’s allegations that AssuredPartners violated the injunction," an AssuredPartners spokesman said in an email. "We  disagree with those allegations, and, while we did not and do not agree with the injunction, we are confident that the matters raised by Brown & Brown are without merit. The hearing in March will allow AssuredPartners the opportunity to show that none of the allegations raised by Brown & Brown amount to a violation of the injunction."