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Willis Towers Watson accuses Hearn brothers of breach of contract

Posted On: Feb. 16, 2016 12:00 AM CST

Willis Towers Watson accuses Hearn brothers of breach of contract

Willis Towers Watson P.L.C. has sued the former chairman of Willis Re Inc. and his brother in a contractual dispute over monies owed stemming from the departure of Peter and David Hearn to join rivals.

Peter Hearn resigned from Willis Re in May 2015 to become CEO of Guy Carpenter & Co. L.L.C. effective this May, while his brother David, formerly an executive vice president, left Willis Re in August 2015.

In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Willis Towers Watson accuses the Hearns of breach of contract, unjust enrichment and conversion for retention awards they were given during their time with Willis Re.

Willis alleges that, according to their respective employment contracts that paid Peter Hearn an award of $1.75 million each year in 2013, 2014 and 2015 and David Hearn $525,000 to $675,000 a year during that period, they agreed to repay the performance awards should they leave Willis before the end of their contracts.

Willis Towers Watson alleges the men have thus far refused to repay their portions of the awards.

“Willis Towers Watson is currently pursuing legal redress for breach of contract. We will always defend our rights robustly and will pursue cases vigorously where we believe action is necessary to vindicate the company's rights,” a Willis Towers Watson spokeswoman said Tuesday in an email to Business Insurance.

Willis Towers Watson is seeking approximately $2.8 million in damages from Peter Hearn and approximately $800,000 from David Hearn.

Guy Carpenter, a Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc. subsidiary, declined comment on the case.