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MMA sues advisory firm with ex-employee’s departure

Marsh & McLennan Agency

Marsh & McLennan Agency has filed suit against a benefits advisory firm and a former executive, charging them with conspiring to take confidential and proprietary information.

In addition, litigation is ongoing between Aon PLC and a California benefits firm and several former employees, who are being charged with a “systematic and coordinated assault” on the brokerage’s equity services business.

In litigation filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, Marsh & McLennan Agency charges financial consultant Teros Advisors LLC, based in Lafayette, California, with conspiring with former client service executive Rick Ferguson to take its confidential proprietary and trade secret information, among other allegations, according to the complaint in MMA v. Teros Advisors LLC.

Mr. Ferguson, who had signed an employment agreement in February 2007 with a firm later acquired by Marsh & McLennan Agency, was hired by Teros in February 2019, according to the complaint.

However, the complaint alleges that conversations regarding Mr. Ferguson leaving Marsh & McLennan Agency for Teros began by at least December 2018 and that they “specifically discussed” Mr. Ferguson bringing Marsh & McLennan Agency’s clients with him to Marsh & McLennan Agency if he was hired.

Marsh & McLennan Agency said in the complaint it learned of Mr. Ferguson’s “unlawful conduct” on or about Feb. 14, 2019, but Mr. Ferguson resigned on Feb. 15, before he could be terminated. 

Marsh & McLennan Agency issued a cease and desist letter to Mr. Ferguson and Teros on Feb. 19, 2019, to which Teros never responded, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit seeks a “preliminary and permanent order” enjoining Teros from “committing any unfair acts of unfair competition and from using confidential and proprietary information; compensatory damages; an award for unjust enrichment; punitive damages and attorneys fees.

Spokesmen for Marsh & McLennan Agency and Teros could not be reached for comment.

The Aon litigation, which was first filed in November in U.S. District Court in Chicago, charges five former employees who had worked in Aon’s equity services division and joined Infinite Equity as of June 2019 with breaching their fiduciary duties to Aon, and three of the employees with breach of their contractual commitments to Aon.

It also charges both the former employees and Infinite Equity with misappropriation of trade secrets, according to the lawsuit, Aon PLC and Aon Group Inc. v. Infinite Equity, Inc.; Terry Adamson; Jon Burg, Daniel Coleman, Elizabeth Stoudt and Tyler Evans.

Aon’s equity services business helps companies with equity compensation, according to the complaint.

Infinite Equity filed suit against Aon in state court in San Francisco in February on charges including unfair and fraudulent business acts and practices, according to the lawsuit in Infinite Equity Inc. et al. v. Aon PLC, et al.

It accuses Aon with ignoring California law and forcing its California employees to “sign multiple illegal agreements with a confusing web of Aon entities located all over the place.”

In the latest court filing in the case, on last Wednesday, defendants charged that Aon was seeking an “onerous 49-day preliminary injunction against Defendants without allowing for a preliminary injunction or even a briefing.”

Aon and Infinite did not immediately provide a comment in the case.









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