A federal judge on Wednesday agreed to confirm and expand an injunction against several former USI Insurance Services LLC brokers who left to join rival Lockton Cos. LLC but declined to issue an injunction against Lockton.
In February, the U.S. District Court in Tampa, Florida, ordered five former USI brokers to honor the non-solicitation and confidentiality 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 to obtain a ruling that the restrictions in the agreements were illegal and unenforceable when they left the brokerage house.
The district court ruled Wednesday that its preliminary injunction would remain in place, further extending its bans to two more former USI employees who now work at Lockton.
“The Court finds that USI has not demonstrated—at least at this time based on limited discovery—a substantial likelihood of success on its claims against Lockton sufficient to obtain an injunction requiring Lockton to terminate its newly formed business relationships with former USI clients /accounts”;, the verdict 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 deceased employees, “were clearly inclined to breach” their employment agreements” rather than to be induced to do it by Lockton.”
However, it added that “Lockton certainly took advantage of the situation by hiring Simmons and Mitchell to their requested terms, knowing that their planned conduct would violate the prohibitions of their contract with USI.”
The ruling requires Lockton to inform all former USI clients it serves of the court’s decision by May 15.
In a brief filed with the court on April 18, Lockton said, “USI is asking this court to issue relief based only on inferences about patterns of unproven misconduct and inferences contradicted by competent evidence.”
USI had no comment on Wednesday’s ruling, while Lockton did not respond to a request for comment.