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Judge rejects contempt for Alliant in Aon's employee, client poaching suit


NEW YORK—A New York state judge has handed Alliant Insurance Services Inc. a victory in ongoing litigation with Aon Corp. over allegations that Alliant poached Aon employees.

In an order filed late last week, New York State Supreme Court Judge Bernard J. Fried rejected Aon's bid to have Newport Beach, Calif.-based Alliant held in contempt for allegedly violating a preliminary injunction that the judge issued late last year.

Chicago-based Aon alleged that the former executives conspired with Alliant to solicit at least 40 others employees of Aon's construction services group to quit Aon and join Alliant in 2011.

In the December ruling, Judge Fried temporarily barred Alliant and some former Aon employees who had joined Alliant's construction services group from soliciting business from certain Aon clients—those on whose accounts the former Aon employees had worked or served as producers.

In his order, Judge Fried said that Aon was “likely to succeed on the merits” of several of its claims against its former employees and Alliant. The allegations against the former employees include breach of contract and violations of fiduciary duty, while those against Alliant include allegations that it had interfered with employment contracts.

Aon alleged that that Alliant had violated the order because of materials sent this year to certain Aon clients, and should be held in contempt. However, Judge Fried rejected that argument last week, holding that Aon had failed to establish “clear and convincing evidence” that Alliant had indeed disobeyed the order.

“We are pleased that the court has rejected Aon's efforts to improperly expand the injunction beyond what Justice Fried previously ruled,” Jeffrey S. Klein, lead counsel for Alliant and chair of the employment litigation practice at Weil, Gotshal & Manges L.L.P., said Tuesday in a statement. “This is an important and positive development, and we will continue to defend our client against Aon.”

“The parties are continuing to pursue their respective rights and we look forward to pursuing a favorable outcome for Aon,” said a spokesman for Aon in an email.

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