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WellPoint Suit Claims Aetna Violated Pact

August 29, 2001|Bloomberg News

Aetna Inc., the biggest U.S. health insurer, is accused in a suit by rival WellPoint Health Networks Inc. of violating an agreement by hiring a WellPoint executive.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in New York, said the two companies agreed in August 2000 "not to solicit or hire certain employees of the other for a one-year period" while WellPoint and Aetna evaluated a "possible negotiated transaction."

Despite the agreement, the lawsuit said, Aetna hired WellPoint executive Ronald A. Williams on March 15 as chief of health operations. Williams was president of the large-group division of Thousand Oaks-based WellPoint, one of California's biggest health insurers.

The complaint said Williams has provided Aetna "confidential and proprietary information."

An Aetna spokesman denied the accusations.

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