Salem insurance firm sues ex-employees for allegedly conspiring to steal clients

LISBON – Morris Financial Group Inc. of Salem filed a lawsuit this week against two former employees of the agency and another insurance agency involving allegedly conspiring to take clients from Morris Financial’s agency to the other.

The lawsuit names two former Morris employees – Gino Pannunzio of Boardman, who worked at the agency for 17 years, and Dee McFarland of Salem, who worked there for 19 years. Additionally, it includes two agents of a competitive agency, National Healthcare Access Agency Inc. Those employees are Frank Caparso of Brecksville, and Deana Moran Hutch of Poland. Finally, the lawsuit names another individual allegedly involved in a conspiracy, Ronald Albright of Canfield.

According to the lawsuit, the two Morris employees were financially induced to take confidential information about clients and accounts from the Morris Agency to NHAA.

It alleges McFarland used her position to gather client account information, computer passwords, email addresses used by Morris employees and other information before resigning on July 15.

Pannunzio reportedly along with McFarland, copied

confidential information. Pannunzio resigned on July 16. At that time, he was reportedly asked to turn in his cell phone, which he did, but the phone was later found missing after Pannunzio’s departure.. The cell phone contained a list of names and telephone numbers of Morris Agency clients.

Additionally, the lawsuit claims Hutch and Albright conspired to transfer the account number of Pannunzio’s cell phone, which had been issued by Morris, to another name so they could continue using that phone.

The lawsuit further alleges NHAA and its employees conspired to help Pannunzio and McFarland cover their tracks, making it difficult to detect their alleged activities. It claims since leaving Morris Financial, the two former employees have contacted Morris clients, attempting to solicit them to switch agencies, while utilizing information from the Morris Financial files.

On July 22, Morris Financial sent a letter to Pannunzio, McFarland and Caparso at NHAA insisting they cease their activities and return the cell phone along with all confidential information in their possession.

The lawsuit seeks in excess of $25,000 for alleged violation of the Trade Secrets Act, as well as in excess of $25,000 for breech of the duty of loyalty, in excess of $25,000 for unjust enrichment, in excess of $25,000 for conversion of property, in excess of $25,000 for acts of faithless servants, in excess of $25,000 for tortious interference with business relationships and in excess of $25,000 for replevin, or an attempt to recover goods held.