Regions Insurance Seeks to Enforce Contracts of Departed Agents

by Gwen Moritz  on Wednesday, Mar. 25, 2009 11:22 am  

Regions Insurance Inc. has filed a lawsuit and received a restraining order against eight former employees who were hired away earlier this month by Stephens Insurance LLC of Little Rock.

In the lawsuit filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court on Monday, Regions Insurance argues that all eight employees - led by Stanley G. Payne and William W. Bussey - had noncompete contracts that prohibited them from soliciting or accepting any business from clients they worked with at Regions. The lawsuit also claims that Payne had started soliciting the business of Regions Insurance clients as early as March 19.

Regions also alleges that, after Payne and Bussey resigned on March 6, they pressured account manager Jim Goss and five customer service representatives on their team to go with them to Stephens Insurance.

According to the complaint, "Mr. Payne and/or Mr. Bussey informed the remaining members of their team that they had resigned their employment with Regions Insurance and that unless [the other team members] did the same that they would no longer have employment with Regions Insurance."

Regions' complaint says Payne and Bussey implied to the other team members that they would be taking Regions Insurance customers with them to Stephens.

Circuit Judge Jay Moody issued an emergency restraining order on Tuesday forbidding the former Regions employees from using or disseminating any of Regions' proprietary information before a hearing can be held on April 16.

Stephens Insurance is a division of Stephens Inc. of Little Rock, whose spokesman, Frank Thomas, declined comment on the litigation. Stephens Insurance is not a party to the case, and none of the defendants had filed any response as of Wednesday morning.

Regions is being represented by North Little Rock attorney Morgan "Chip" Welch, who also declined comment. A call to Regions Insurance in-house counsel Steve Gardner of Memphis was not returned Wednesday morning. Regions Insurance, formerly Rebsamen Insurance Co., is a subsidiary of Regions Financial Corp. of Birmingham, Ala.



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