Victory for Former State Farm Agents Accused of Allegedly Stealing Trade Secrets

August 12, 2002

A three-and-a-half year lawsuit pitting two former State Farm agents against giant conglomerate State Farm Automobile Insurance Company has finally come to an end, with the jury’s verdict ruling for the defendants.

Richard Pyorre of Fort Bragg, Calif. and John Wier of Crescent City, Calif., were awarded $3.35 million and $3.25 million, respectively for emotional distress damages and loss of commissions as the result of a seven-week trial in which State Farm sued the two agents for allegedly disclosing trade secrets from the company.

Pyorre and Wier counter-sued, claiming State Farm wrongfully terminated them and further interfered with their ability to provide insurance to their clients under different carriers.

The jury found that Pyorre and Wier were not guilty of State Farm’s allegations, including disclosure of trade secrets and breach of contract.

They further ruled that State Farm interfered with Pyorre and Wier’s contracts with Mercury Automobile Insurance. Of the total $6.6 million awarded to the pair, $350,000 was awarded to Pyorre, and $250,000 to Wier as the amount of lost commissions due to the interference.

Three million each was awarded as emotional distress damages.

“It’s about time that one of these big bully corporations got taken to task,” Pyorre told Insurance Journal. “It’s a $70 billion dollar company and they terminated us, they took our term pay‚Ķ then they turned around and sued us and wanted more money.”

The jury will further decide the amount of punitive damages that will be awarded on Monday, Aug. 12.

For more on this story, see the Sept. 2 issue of Insurance Journal West.

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