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WTW suing rival Alliant, alleging poaching of employees


The spate of broker poaching lawsuits continued Thursday, with Willis Towers Watson PLC suing Alliant Insurance Services Inc. in federal district court in Richmond, Virginia, charging that a just-retired Willis official encouraged seven of the employees whom he supervised to join him at Alliant.

The lawsuit, Willis Towers Watson Southeast Inc. and Willis Americas Administration Inc. v. Alliant Insurance Services Inc. Douglas Pera et al., states that Mr. Pera, who formerly supervised the other employees as corporate and risk and broking leader for Willis’ Southeast region in Glen Allen, Virginia, went to work for Alliant in August after allegedly retiring.

It says Mr. Pera encouraged the others to join him, which they did in a “coordinated raid” on Willis’ Glen Allen office and real estate practice over a span of time that began in August and ended with the last two employees leaving Oct. 4, according to the lawsuit.

It says the majority of the former employees are bound by “narrowly tailored restrictive covenants” that prevents them from soliciting and accepting business or providing services to Willis clients. It charges that the departing employees have solicited business from a number of Willis clients.

Charges in the lawsuit against the former employees and Alliant include tortious interference with contract, breach of contract, violation of the Defend Trade Secrets Act and breach of the duty of loyalty.

Willis is seeking “temporary, preliminary and permanent injunctive relief” to prevent the defendants from continuing to breach their restrictive covenants and soliciting business from Willis clients.

Alliant did not respond to a request for comment.

On Tuesday, Lockton Cos. LLC sued Willis units and two of its former producers in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Missouri, charging the producers broke termination agreements when they abruptly resigned to join the rival brokerage.