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5. Willis sued Marsh over poaching of 25 employees


The past year has seen a significant amount of personnel movement in the insurance brokerage sector as rival companies hired staff away from their previous employers.

The poaching incidents often were followed by lawsuits alleging breaches of employment agreements.

One of the most high-profile disputes involved Willis Towers Watson PLC, which sued Marsh LLC in state court in Chicago in September after 25 employees, primarily members of Willis’ senior living group, left to join its Marsh in August.

The story detailing the lawsuit was the fifth most read risk management-related story on Business Insurance’s website in 2021.

The complaint said six Willis brokers who were producers in Chicago, including executive vice presidents John Atkinson and Michael Pokora, simultaneously resigned on Aug. 5 and joined Marsh on Aug. 23. They were later followed by the others.

Marsh denied Willis’ charges and Judge Neil H. Cohen of the Cook County Chancery Division dismissed Willis’ motion for a temporary restraining order and its request for expedited discovery in the case.

In a Nov. 29 ruling, Judge Cohen dismissed all the charges against Marsh with the exception of tortious interference with contract. A court clerk said the case is ongoing.

This was only part of the employee migration from Willis to Marsh in 2021, both before and after the scuttling of Aon PLC’s planned acquisition of Willis.

Other Marsh hires from Willis included government contract practice leaders, reinsurance leaders in Asia and London and a risk management leader in Chicago.

Willis announced several hires itself toward the end of the year, including a former Marsh property insurance executive.

No. 6 most read story