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Employee defection sparks battle between brokerages

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A legal battle has broken out between two insurance brokerages, with Hylant Group alleging Huntington Insurance hired one of its former employees who then lured away two of its clients.

Toledo,Ohio-based Hylant, which has offices in Carmel, alleges former employee Nicholas Iaonnacci, of Indianapolis, violated a two-year non-compete clause of his employment agreement by going to work for Huntington’s Indianapolis office last summer.

Before resigning from Hylant on June 24, Iaonnacci allegedly emailed confidential Hylant information to his personal email account, Hylant alleges in a lawsuit filed last month in Hamilton Superior Court. The email included passwords to databases and a database of prospective clients, the brokerage alleges.

But attorneys for Huntington and Iaonnacci this month filed to transfer the case to U.S. District Court in Indianapolis. They argued federal court was the appropriate venue, given Hylant’s allegations that Iaonnacci violated the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

According to Hylant’s complaint, a month after Iaonnacci left for Huntington it received notice from the Indiana University Research and Technology Corp. that it was discontinuing its relationship with Hylant.

In March of this year, Hylant lost another client, IDI Fabrication in Noblesville.

“After thoughtful consideration — and three months of trying to track him down — we are going to continue our relationship with Nick Iaonnacci at Huntington,” states a letter IDI’s chief financial officer wrote to Hylant, according to its suit.

Hylant contends it placed a two-year non-compete clause in its employment contract with Iaonnacci because the insurance industry relies heavily upon relationships between brokers and customers that are developed over time.

“In the insurance industry, once a customer is obtained, the reasonable anticipation is that the customer will remain with the broker, continuing to renew policies on an annual basis and earning additional revenue for the broker,” Hylant said in its complaint.

The dollar value of the lost contracts is not quantified in the complaint.

Hylant accuses Huntington of tortuous interference, unjust enrichment and violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. It wants the court to enforce Iaonnacci’s employment agreement and seeks an unspecified amount of damages for the lost value of business.

Brent Wilder, spokesman for the Columbus, Ohio-based parent of Huntington Insurance, Huntington Bancshares, said it typically doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

Huntington Insurance ranks in the 50 largest agent/brokerage agencies in the U.S. Its Indianapolis office is at 45 N. Pennsylvania St. Hylant has metro area offices at 301 Pennsylvania Parkway in Carmel, where it counts about 60 employees.

Hylant has more than $135 million in premiums written in Indiana and was the 11th largest Indianapolis-area independent insurance agency/brokerage in 2013, according to IBJ research.

 

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  1. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  2. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  3. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  4. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  5. I totally agree with John Smith.

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