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Aon eSolutions sues rival after defections

Aon eSolutions is suing rival risk management software producer Riskonnect after three of its employees defected, allegedly taking confidential information with them.

Aon is seeking injunctive relief and damages against Stephen Breslin, James Haas and Gina Rothweiler, for allegedly misappropriating confidential information and conspiring to engage in unfair competition.

The suit also names the trio's current employer, Riskonnect, as a defendant. Papers filed by Aon's lawyers said the firm had "encouraged or condoned the unauthorized activity".

"Breslin, Haas and Rothweiler were business producers for Aon, who on the eve of their resignation copied and removed, without authorization, Aon computer files containing trade secrets and/or confidential business information for the apparent purpose of using such information to solicit business for Riskonnect," Aon claimed in papers filed in the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia on 5 August.

The suit also asserts that federal laws on computer fraud had been breached.

Riskonnect makes enterprise-class risk management software solutions and is led by co-founder and CEO Bob Morrell.

Risk Laboratories, Morrell's first business, was founded while he was still at college in 1994, and was later purchased by Aon in 2004.

Aon then renamed the firm Aon eSolutions.

The three named defendants were all former business producers for Aon eSolutions. Outlined in the suit is a series of documents they allegedly downloaded prior to leaving the firm, including Aon's current and former client contact lists, lists of potential leads, the firm's 2011 sales plan and information on client satisfaction.

Aon has asked for injunctive relief to prevent the trio continuing to work for Riskonnect. Aon said it would otherwise suffer irreparable injury "which can only be avoided by enjoining its former employees from working for Riskonnect for an appropriate period of time".

"Based on the similarity between their apparent job responsibilities at Riskonnect and their former responsibilities at Aon, as well as their financial incentive in developing business for Riskonnect, Breslin, Haas and Rothweiler cannot possibly perform their responsibilities at Riskonnect without disclosing and relying upon Aon's confidential information," Aon's suit asserts.

Aon is also seeking various awards of damages, although largely left the amounts to be decided at trial.

But in a statement last week, Morrell said that while Riskonnect had not been served with any legal papers, he believed the allegations transmitted through media outlets were without merit.

"Steve [Breslin], Jim [Haas] and Gina [Rothweiler] joined us more than two months ago after many years as top producers at Aon eSolutions. Obviously, the timing and content of this lawsuit is surprising, as is the manner in which we learned about it.

"Riskonnect takes the confidentiality of our competitor's information very seriously. For this reason, we believe these claims are without legal merit and we will address them in due course," Morrell concluded.

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