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Broker versus broker litigation was a major theme of 2019 as firms attempted, with varying degrees of success, to enforce nonsolicitation agreements on former employees who had jumped ship to other firms.
Of all the various broker litigation stories that Business Insurance published in 2019, a March story about Lockton Cos. LLC suing Alliant Insurance Services Inc. after the Newport Beach, California-based brokerage poached 26 former Lockton employees drew the most interest. The story was the sixth most popular item on BusinessInsurance.com over the past year.
The litigation charged that beginning on March 12, Alliant “poached” from a Denver-based Lockton unit seven producer members, 19 other employees and 24 customers representing millions in revenues.
The litigation, which charged that the departed employees violated nonsolicitation agreements, focused on Lockton’s Denver headquartered Mountain West Series, which as of mid-2018 served more than 2,000 customers from Denver, Phoenix, Las Vegas and Seattle, according to the lawsuit.
Subsequently, on June 20 the court granted Lockton’s motion for a preliminary injunction to bar Alliant from soliciting Lockton’s customers, servicing the Lockton customers that Alliant had captured, soliciting Lockton’s employees and using Lockton’s confidential information.
The court held that Lockton’s claim for tortious interference with contract “has shown a reasonable probability of success on the merits, a threat of irreparable harm, and a balancing of the equities that favors the issuance of an injunction.”
The court refused a motion to stay the preliminary injunction in July.
Lockton was not the only rival to go to court against Alliant. In November, Aon PLC filed suit against Alliant alleging the brokerage had poached a group of construction brokers and the move was part of a pattern of behavior by Alliant.
Later in the month, a judge granted a temporary restraining order against Alliant.