Adams Stepner Attorneys Mary Ann Stewart and Bryce C. Rhoades recently scored a major victory on behalf of their clients, Christa Ruber Hamm, David Worthington and Worthington Insurance Group in a lawsuit brought by Allstate Insurance Company. Allstate sued Ms. Hamm and Mr. Worthington, a father and daughter who were formerly Allstate exclusive agents, alleging that they had engaged in improper solicitation of Allstate clients and had misappropriated Allstate trade secrets and confidential information after the termination of the agency relationship. Allstate sought over a half million dollars in damages.
But Allstate’s claims against its former agents had no merit. The customers that Allstate identified as having been solicited or having evidence that their Allstate files had been accessed by Ms. Hamm or Mr. Worthington all denied under oath that this occurred. Moreover, Allstate’s own corporate representatives confirmed in deposition testimony that all electronic and hard files had been turned over to Allstate’s custody and control prior to Hamm and Worthington vacating their Allstate office. Based upon these facts, the United States District Court not only granted summary judgment dismissing all of Allstate’s claims against Ms. Hamm, Mr. Worthington, and Worthington Insurance Group, it turned around and granted summary judgment on Ms. Hamm’s own breach of contract claim against Allstate and ordered Allstate to pay damages of approximately $140,000.00 to Ms. Hamm.
In commenting on the outcome, Ms. Stewart noted: “This was a modern-day David and Goliath story, pitting a large multi-national insurance company against two small business owners who remained compliant with their commitments to Allstate, and who were just trying to make an honest living”. Ms. Stewart also stated, “I am proud of the fact that my clients, over the course of three years, faced Allstate’s virtually unlimited resources, but they never backed down and refused to be intimidated. I am also pleased that now there is a published decision that not only vindicates my clients, but which provides persuasive authority for future agents who conclude their relationship with Allstate, only to find that they are denied compensation owed to them, and are subjected to threats to their business and baseless attacks on their integrity.”
The Opinion and Order entered in Allstate Insurance Co. v. Christa Ruber Hamm, et. al., No. 2:17-cv-00049 can be read here.