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AssuredPartners sues Alliant, former agribusiness brokers


AssuredPartners Inc. is suing Alliant Insurance Services Inc. in South Carolina for hiring an agribusiness brokerage leader and four associates, who abruptly resigned last week to join Alliant.

The poaching lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Columbia, seeks damages and an injunction prohibiting Alliant from using or disclosing confidential and trade secret information, according to the complaint filed Friday in AssuredPartners of South Carolina LLC and AssuredPartners Capital Inc. v. Alliant Insurance Services Inc., Richard H. Lonneman Jr., Meghan Schultz, Amanda Peterson, Melissa A. Bugeski and Laurence Rushe.

The group was headed by Mr. Lonneman, who lives in Ohio and supervised a team of South Carolina employees, three of whom resigned at the same time he did, the complaint said. All of the former employees had restrictive covenants agreements, it said.

Alliant announced Wednesday that Mr. Lonneman, who is based in Cincinnati, has been named to the newly created role of executive vice president within its agribusiness specialty vertical.

The clients the former employees solicited generated more than $8 million in annual revenue, according to the complaint.  Mr. Lonneman earned more than $2.2 million last year, while payments of more than $2.7 million combined were made to the other defendants, it said. 

The five all resigned Sept. 19 and immediately joined Alliant, according to the complaint. Zoom records indicate that before they left, the defendants began scheduling meetings with the highest-grossing revenue clients “likely to notify the clients of their impending departure and to discuss whether the client would follow them to Alliant,” it said.

The same day as their departure, another Alliant producer started calling AssuredPartners’ clients to solicit their business, the complaint said.

The lawsuit charges the individual defendants with breach of contract and all of the defendants with tortious interference with contractual and prospective contractual relations; unjust enrichment; and violation of the South Carolina Unfair Trade Practices Act. It also charges Mr. Lonneman with breach of duty of loyalty.

Alliant did not respond to a request for comment.

Alliant has been subject to numerous lawsuits alleging new hires breached previous employment agreements.