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A federal judge Tuesday agreed to reaffirm and expand an injunction against several former USI Insurance Services LLC brokers who left to join rival Lockton Cos. LLC but refused to issue an injunction against Lockton.
In February, the U.S. District Court in Tampa, Florida, ordered five former USI brokers to honor the nonsolicitation and nondisclosure clauses in the employment agreements they signed with their former employer. The case is Matthew Simmons, Sheila Murray, Jack Mitchell, Jackie Rodriguez, Madison Lieffort, and Emily Carter v. USI Insurance Services LLC.
The brokers sued USI seeking a ruling that the restrictions in the agreements were illegal and unenforceable when they left the brokerage.
The district court ruled Tuesday that its preliminary injunction would remain in place, and further extended its prohibitions to two additional former USI employees now working at Lockton.
“However, the Court finds that USI has not shown — at least at this juncture based on limited discovery — a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of its claims against Lockton sufficient to obtain an injunction requiring Lockton to end its newly formed business relationships with former USI client/accounts,” the ruling said.
It stated that “based on the evidence presented,” Matthew Simmons, the leader of the team that joined Lockton, and Jack Mitchell, another of the departed employees “were plainly predisposed to breach” their employment agreements “rather than being induced to do so by Lockton.”
It added, however, that “Lockton certainly took advantage of the situation by hiring Simmons and Mitchell to their requested terms, knowing their planned course of conduct would violate prohibitions in their contracts with USI.”
The ruling requires Lockton to inform any former USI clients it serves of the court’s decision by May 15.
In an April 18 brief filed with the court, Lockton said, “USI asks this court to issue punitive relief premised only on innuendo about patterns of unproven misconduct and inferences contradicted by competent evidence.”
USI and Lockton had no comment about Tuesday's ruling.