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An Illinois appeals court says Cigna Corp. did not steal its concept for a points-based workplace wellness program from a competing health insurer.
Chicago-based Destiny Health Inc. — a subsidiary of Discovery Health Ltd. — failed to show that its “Vitality” wellness program was the basis for Cigna's “Incentive Points Program,” a three-judge panel of the Illinois First District Appellate Court ruled on Friday.
“Despite several years of discovery, Destiny Health has provided no evidence that could support an inference that Cigna used its information, no evidence that Cigna's incentive points program is similar to the Vitality program, and no evidence that Cigna could not create its own program without Destiny Health's information,” Judge Thomas Hoffman wrote in the court's unanimous ruling.
Destiny Health sued Cigna in 2009 for alleged violations of the Illinois Trade Secrets Act, claiming that the Bloomfield, Connecticut, insurer misappropriated confidential information about the “Vitality” program obtained during preliminary talks of a joint venture between the two companies.
Cigna launched its “Incentive Points Program” for employers through a vendor partnership with IncentOne Inc. in 2009, approximately 18 months after exploring a similar relationship with Destiny Health, according to court documents.
Cigna employees testified that the company elected not to partner with Destiny Health because the “Vitality” program was too inflexible to meet the company's needs, among other issues.
“Cigna wanted to give each employer the ability to customize its own program by choosing the activities to incentivize, the point values for each activity, the rewards offered, and the point levels to earn specific rewards,” Judge Hoffman wrote. “The Vitality program, on the other hand, offered a fixed approach and did not allow any customization.”
A Cook County circuit court judge dismissed Destiny Health's claims in 2014, citing a lack of direct evidence refuting any of the facts Cigna presented during its testimony.
“We decline to assume that Cigna improperly used confidential information based solely on the fact that it had access to the information,” Judge Hoffman wrote in the appellate court's ruling. Absent some evidence that Cigna could not have developed its incentive-points program without the use of Destiny's trade secrets, conclusory assertions of misappropriation based solely upon Cigna's access during the parties' negotiations are not sufficient to make the requisite showing that Cigna's use of those trade secrets was inevitable.”
Destiny Health Inc. and Cigna Corp. did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The back story behind Aetna Inc.'s acquisition of Humana Inc. reads like a soap opera in which each of the “big five” health insurance companies were involved and multiple deals were hanging in the air at the same time.