It was sued for the alleged “unlawful raid” on employees
By Gia Snape
Aon is suing Alliant and 10 former Aon employees, claiming Alliant used an “illicit playbook” to hire 26 Aon employees for its new reinsurance brokerage, Alliant Re.
In its filing in Chicago district court, Aon also alleged that Alliant took away business from its top facultative reinsurance clients and obtained confidential information and trade secrets.
It’s a claim that Alliant, which has leveled its own accusation that Aon is engaging in “excessive litigation”, has vowed to vigorously defend.
What’s in Aon’s lawsuit against Alliant?
In its filings, Aon alleged that Alliant’s conduct was aimed “to enter the reinsurance market and begin the launch of Alliant Re” late last month. It accused Alliant of taking approximately 32% of its facultative reinsurance group.
“Prior to the raid, Alliant did not have a reinsurance division and did not compete in the reinsurance broking industry,” Aon said in court documents.
In addition, Aon accused its former employee of accessing several confidential folders and files days before they were released.
Alliant responded to the allegations in the lawsuit by Aon employees
Alliant is “delighted” to welcome new talented reinsurance professionals to Alliant Re, Peter Arkley, president, retail property & casualty at Alliant, said in response to the suit.
“Although it may not please our competitors, Alliant is changing the way our clients approach risk and benefits management,” said Arkley.
Alliant pledged to “vigorously defend” against the claim in a statement provided by the Insurance Business.
“Alliant has strict hiring protocols designed to ensure that new hires return all property and equipment to former employers and do not engage in any improper acquisition, use , or disclosure of confidential, proprietary, or trade secret information,” the statement read.
“Alliant instructs prospective employees to act only for their current employer until they resign.
“Alliant will vigorously defend against Aon’s allegations regarding the departure of employees from Aon’s facultative reinsurance group in the US.”
The company also countered Aon’s claims. It says that while it has experienced “remarkable growth” over the past decade, “competitors seek to suppress employee mobility through excessive use of litigation.”
“Aon has a history of filing such cases. In the only two cases between the parties that went to trial, Alliant and its insurance professionals prevailed,” Alliant continued.
Recalling one of the earlier cases, Heffernan v Aon Risk Services Companies, Alliant said:
“Heffernan has the right to pursue any legal occupation and business of his choosing, which includes engaging in business of the same type of business as Aon does, to perform professional services for clients who he works at Aon.”
History of poaching cases against Alliant
The new case opens a new chapter in the legal dispute between the two companies.
In 2020, the two settled a poaching suit after a group of Aon construction brokers moved to Alliant.
The case, Peter Baldwin et al v Aon Risk Services Companies et al, began after staff left Aon’s California offices for Newport Beach-based Alliant in 2014, and was later followed by more than 60 Aon employees .
After an eight-week trial, the jury cleared the producers of breach of fiduciary duty, aiding and abetting fiduciary duty, breach of fiduciary duty, interference with contract and theft of trade secrets.
In Heffernan v Aon Risk Services Companies, Aon claimed its former executive, Michael Heffernan, breached strict covenants and duties at law and common law, and that Alliant aided and abetted those breaches.
After Heffernan left Aon in 2016, 26 employees followed him to Alliant’s San Jose office. The California Superior Court ruled that Aon’s covenants were unenforceable.
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