Leeman v. Regions Insurance, Inc.
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING 34 MOTION (First) for Summary Judgment on Counts I and II by Plaintiff Pamela A. Leeman; GRANTING 53 MOTION for Summary Judgment on Counts I and II of Plaintiff's Complaint by Defendant Regions Insurance Inc. The Motion for Summary Judgment (DE 58 ) directed at Counts III through VIII will be addressed separately. Signed by Judge Robert L Miller, Jr on 3/31/17. (cer)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
SOUTH BEND DIVISION
PAMELA A. LEEMAN,
REGIONS INSURANCE, INC.,
Cause No. 3:14-CV-1777 RLM
OPINION AND ORDER
Pamela Leeman brought suit against her former employer, Regions
Insurance, Inc., after she was terminated for refusing to sign an amendment to an
employment agreements modifying the terms of compensation. In her third
amended complaint, she seeks a declaration that two of the provisions in her
original employment agreement are overly broad and unenforceable (Count 1) and
asserts claims for breach of contract (Count 2), and employment discrimination
under Title VII, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Equal Pay Act
(Counts 3-8). Cross motions for summary judgment on Counts 1 and 2 [Doc. Nos.
34 and 53] currently pend before the court.1 For the following reasons, Regions’
motion is granted, and the plaintiff’s motion is denied.
A summary judgment motion also pends with respect to the claims asserted in
Counts 3-8 [Doc. No. 58]. That motion will be addressed by separate order.
Pamela Leeman worked as an insurance agent (“producer”) for Regions and
its predecessor, Miles & Finch, from 1996 until April 1, 2015, when she was
On December 18, 2006, Ms. Leeman entered into a Producer Employment
Agreement with Miles & Finch, which, among other things, set the rates of
compensation, provided that “changes in the time of payments, rate and terms of
compensation may be made from time to time by mutual agreement”, and
included restrictions on the disclosure of confidential information, the solicitation
of “any Customer that [Ms. Leeman] was wholly or partially responsible for
managing, supervising, or servicing . . . at the time of [her] termination”, and
hiring or soliciting to hire “any other producers of Miles & Finch”. Under the
Agreement, if a client purchased insurance from Ms. Leeman, she received a
portion of Miles & Finch’s commission (or “revenue”) – generally 35 percent on
business she handled alone. Ms. Leeman co-managed accounts with another
Miles & Finch producer, Brett Cain, and worked out an arrangement whereby she
and Cain each received 25 percent of the revenue on their shared accounts (a 50
percent shared commission).
Regions purchased a portion of Miles & Finch’s assets in early 2007, and
continued the employment of several of Miles & Finch’s producers, including Ms.
Leeman. The producers’ job responsibilities and compensation structure remained
the same, and Ms. Leeman and Mr. Cain were allowed to continue their split
In 2012, Regions began to make changes to the terms of compensation,
reducing the rate of compensation on new co-managed property and casualty
accounts from 25 percent to 17.5 percent. In 2014, it changed the compensation
rate on accounts reassigned from departing producers from 35 percent to 20
percent, and reassigned all small accounts (accounts generating $1,500 or less
in annual revenue) to its Small Accounts/RIG Select Unit.
In January 2015, Regions: (1) announced that it was going to reduce the
rate of compensation on pre-existing co-managed accounts from 25 percent to
17.5 percent; (2) asked its producers to sign an “Amendment to Agreement”
modifying the compensation and benefits provisions of the 2006 Producer
Employment Agreement, effective January 1, 2015 [Doc. No. 26-2]; and (3) notified
the producers that anyone who didn’t sign the Amendment by March 31, 2015
would be terminated. The Amendment deleted paragraph 1 and Exhibit A (the
Producer Compensation schedule) of the 2006 Producer Employment Agreement,
and replaced it with a new “Compensation, Benefits and Expenses” provision that
set the rates of compensation for all new, renewal, and assigned business
beginning January 1, 2015, and provided that: “All commissions and fees are
subject to adjustments for...commission sharing arrangements when other
insurance producers or licensed insurance associates assist the Producer in
obtaining new, renewal and/or assigned business...” (Amendment ¶ 1(a)(i) and (ii)).
After producers complained, Regions “reversed” the rate change for preexisting co-managed accounts, and retroactively credited any lost compensation
to the producers’ accounts, including Ms. Leeman’s. When Ms. Leeman and
another producer, Chris Williamson, refused to sign the Amendment, Regions
terminated their employment.
Ms. Leeman brought suit against Regions, alleging, among other things that:
(1) The confidentiality and “restrictions after termination” provisions
in her 2006 Producer Employment Agreement (¶¶ 4 and 5) are overly broad
and unenforceable and seeks declaratory relief to that effect (Count 1); and
(2) Regions breached the Employment Agreement by:
(a) unilaterally changing the rates of compensation on comanaged accounts in June 2012 and January 2015,
(b) unilaterally changing the compensation rate on accounts
reassigned from departing producers, and
(c) reassigning small accounts (accounts generating $1,500 or
less in annual revenue) to Region’s Small Business Unit in July 2014.
(Count 2). [Doc. No. 26].
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
Summary judgment is appropriate when the record demonstrates that there
are no genuine issues of material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment
as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317,
322 (1986); Protective Life Ins. Co. v. Hansen, 632 F.3d 388, 392 (7th Cir. 2011).
The court construes the evidence, and all inferences that reasonably can be drawn
from the evidence, in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Anderson
v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). The moving party bears the
burden of informing the court of the basis for its motion and identifying the parts
of the record that demonstrate the absence of any genuine issue of material fact.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. at 323. It can meet that burden by showing that
there’s no evidence to support the non-moving party’s case. Id. at 325. Once the
moving party has met its burden, the opposing party can’t rest upon the
allegations in the pleadings, but must “point to evidence that can be put in an
admissible form at trial, and that, if believed by the fact-finder, could support
judgment in his favor.” Marr v. Bank of America, N.A., 662 F.3d 963, 966 (7th Cir.
2011); see also Hastings Mut. Ins. Co. v. LaFollette, No. 1:07-cv-1085, 2009 WL
348769, at *2 (S.D. Ind. Feb. 6, 2009)( “It is not the duty of the court to scour the
record in search of evidence to defeat a motion for summary judgment; rather, the
nonmoving party bears the responsibility of identifying the evidence upon which
he relies.”); Hammel v. Eau Galle Cheese Factory, 407 F.3d 852, 859 (7th Cir.
2005)(quoting Hammel v. Eau Galle Cheese Factory, No. 02-C-0405-C, 2003 WL
21665133, at *7 (W.D. Wis. June 26, 2003) (“Summary judgment is not a dress
rehearsal or practice run; it ‘is the ‘put up or shut up’ moment in a lawsuit, when
a party must show what evidence it has that would convince a trier of fact to
accept its version of events’”).
Pursuant to paragraph 12 of the Employment Agreement, “[The] Agreement
shall be interpreted and enforced in accordance with the laws of the State of
Indiana.” The parties agree that whether the provisions in question (¶¶ 4 and 5)
are reasonable and enforceable is a question of law for the court to decide. See
Bodemer v. Swanel Beverage, Inc., 884 F.Supp.2d 717, 730 (N.D. Ind. 2012);
Licocci v. Cardinal Assocs., Inc., 445 N.E.2d 556, 561 (Ind. 1983). They also agree
that there are no genuine issues of fact precluding the entry of judgment on either
the declaratory judgment or the breach of contract claim.
A. The Confidentiality and Restrictions Provisions (Count 1)
Paragraphs 4 and 5 of the 2006 Employment Agreement provide in relevant
part as follows:
4. Confidentiality. In exchange, and as consideration, for
Producer’s promises contained in this Agreement, Miles & Finch
promises that, immediately upon the execution of the Agreement,
Producer shall be provided access to Miles & Finch’s Confidential
(a) Producer agrees that Miles & Finch has a legitimate
business interest in its Confidential Information. Producer
acknowledges that the insurance business is highly competitive; that
profitability depends, in large part, upon repeat business; that
knowledge of an agency’s customers’ identities, needs, policy
expiration dates, and related data is a valuable competitive tool which
can be used by a competitor to that agency’s substantial detriment;
and that Producer will acquire such knowledge from Miles & Finch in
the course of Producer’s employment. As such, the Parties agree that
Miles & Finch is entitled to prevent the disclosure of its Confidential
(b) For purposes of this Agreement, the Parties acknowledge
and agree that “Confidential Information” means Miles & Finch’s
proprietary information that is not generally available to the public
(unless such information has become available to the public through
fault of Producer). Confidential Information includes, but is not
limited to: (1) Miles & Finch’s proprietary databases and information;
(2) Miles & Finch’s methods of operation, marketing strategies, and
promotional materials; (3) Miles & Finch’s contact and referral
identity information; (4) Miles & Finch’s carriers’, customers’, and
potential customers’ identities, needs, prices, services, and policy
expiration dates; (5) documented proprietary systems and
procedures; (6) logistical information and strategy implementation
methodologies; (7) training provided to Producer by Miles & Finch in
the techniques and methods of the sale of insurance; (8) research
reports and internal documentation prepared by Miles & Finch; and
(9) all other files, instruments, documents, papers and other
materials used in connection with Miles & Finch’s business....
5. Restrictions After Termination. Producer agrees that
during his or her employment and for a period of two (2) years
following termination of his or her employment...he or she will not, for
(a) either directly or indirectly...(i) solicit, divert, accept, service
or assist in the solicitation or acceptance of, any insurance business
from any Customer that Producer was wholly or partially responsible
for managing, supervising, or servicing for Miles & Finch at the time
of such termination; or (ii) hire or solicit to hire any other producers
of Miles & Finch to work for Producer or to work for any other agent,
broker or insurer. For purposes of this Agreement, a “Customer” is
defined to include those organizations, individuals, groups,
companies, or other entities for whom the Producer, at the time of
termination, is selling, servicing, managing or consulting regarding
insurance products, or for whom Producer has sold, serviced,
managed, or consulted regarding insurance products of insurance
claims in the twelve-month period prior to termination of
employment. For purposes of this Agreement, “other producers” are
those producers of independent contractors who are still actively
employed by, or doing business with Miles & Finch at the time of the
attempted recruiting or hiring.
(b) disclose to any person, firm, partnership, association,
corporation or organization engaged in the insurance business the
name and address of any organization or person associated with a
Customer that Producer was wholly or partially responsible for
managing, supervising, or servicing for Miles & Finch at the time of
(c) reveal to any person, firm, partnership, association,
corporation or organization engaged in the insurance business any
information or data relating to any Customer that Producer was
wholly or partially responsible for managing, supervising, or servicing
at the time of termination of his or her employment, including, but
not limited to, the content or expiration date of any insurance policy
(d) directly or indirectly solicit or assist others in soliciting any
employee of Miles & Finch, or its affiliates, to terminate his or her
(e) The restrictions set forth in this Paragraph 5 shall expire the
last day of the restrictive period described in the first sentence of this
Paragraph 5. In addition, Producer irrevocably agrees that, for two
years following termination of his or her employment, Producer will
notify Miles & Finch of any new employment undertaken by Producer
that involves the insurance business and would be likely to compete
with Miles & Finch.
Ms. Leeman seeks an order under the Declaratory Judgment Act
invalidating those provisions. She contends that:
(1) the provisions (together or separately) should be treated as
“covenants not to compete”;
(2) Paragraphs 4 and 5 are unreasonable and unenforceable because
they don’t contain geographic and/or temporal limitations, “irreparably
harm the interest of the general public”, and make it “impossible for [her]
to hold any position in the insurance industry”;
(3) Paragraph 4 is also invalid because it applies to “potential”
customers (¶ 4(b)(4)) and precludes her from using “any confidential
information from now until perpetuity anyplace in the world,” Citing
Bodemer v. Swanel Beverage, Inc., 884 F.Supp.2d 717 (N.D. Ind. 2012);
Vukovich v. Coleman, 789 N.E.2d 520, 526 (Ind. App. 2003); Stuever v.
Monitor Coach Co., 294 N.E.2d 654 (Ind. 1973); and
(4) Regions breached the 2006 Agreement when it unilaterally
changed the rates of compensation on co-managed and reassigned accounts
and reassigned all small accounts to Region’s Small Business/RIG Select
Unit, so it can’t enforce the covenants not to compete. Citing Fisher v.
Heymann, 12 N.E.3d 867, 872-73 (Ind. 2014).2
Regions contends that: the confidentiality provision doesn’t require a
geographic or temporal limitation, because it didn’t prohibit Ms. Leeman from
working or competing with Regions; the non-solicitation provision in paragraph
5 contains reasonable time limitations, and that customer restrictions, like the
one in paragraph 5, can substitute for a geographic limitation in a restrictive
covenant; the restrictions in paragraph 5 aren’t contrary to public interest; and
both provisions (¶¶ 4and 5) are reasonable and narrowly tailored to protect
Regions’ legitimate interest in its customer contact information, customer
requirements, pricing information, and relationships with customers, and
Ms. Leeman also cites in support Fisher v. Heymann, 994 N.E.2d 1151, 116062 (Ind. App. 2013), but that opinion was vacated by Fisher v. Heymann,12 N.E.3d
867 (Ind. 2014). The Indiana Supreme Court held in Fisher, that: “Just as breaching
parties may not take advantage of their breach to relieve them of their contractual
duties [cites omitted], neither may they take advantage of their breach to require nonbreaching parties to perform beyond their contractual duties.” 12 N.E.3d at 872.
confidential and proprietary information (marketing policies, advertising
programs, pricing strategies, customer lists and sales data). The court agrees.
Confidentiality agreements, unlike non-solicitation or non-compete
agreements, don’t require a geographic or temporal limitation, if they don’t
prohibit a former employee from working or competing with his or her former
employer. Citing Bodemer v. Swanel Beverage, Inc., 884 F.Supp.2d 717, 729 n. 12
and 734 (N.D. Ind. 2012). Neither provision prevents Ms. Leeman from: soliciting
clients for whom she didn’t manage or provide services in the year before her
termination, working for a competitor, or working in the insurance industry, as
shown by her having she quickly found another job in the industry. The
Confidentiality provision (¶ 4) only prevents Ms. Leeman from using confidential
and proprietary information “that is not generally available to the public” for her
own benefit and Regions’ detriment – primarily highly confidential information
regarding customers. So too, the “Restrictions After Termination”/non-solicitation
provision only prevents her from soliciting Regions’ “Customers”– which the
Agreement defines as “organizations, individuals, groups, companies, or other
entities for whom [she] has sold, serviced, managed, or consulted regarding
insurance products or insurance claims in the twelve-month period prior to
termination of employment.” (See ¶ 5(a)).
The non-solicitation (“restraint on trade”) provision in paragraph 5 contains
reasonable time limitations, Seach v. Richards, Dieterle & Co., 439 N.E.2d 208
(Ind. App. 1982) (two year limitation is reasonable), and customer restrictions, like
the one in paragraph 5, can substitute for a geographic limitation in a restrictive
covenant. See Product Action Int’l, Inc. v. Mero, 277 F.Supp.2d 919, 925 (S.D. Ind.
2003); Seach v. Richards, Dieterle & Co., 439 N.E.2d 208, 213 (Ind. App. 1982);
Norlund v. Faust, 675 N.E.2d 1142, 1155 (Ind. App. 1997) (“The use of territorial
boundaries is only one method of limiting a covenant’s scope, and when a
covenant not to compete contains a restraint which clearly defines a class of
persons with whom contact is prohibited, the need for a geographical restraint is
decreased.”). The non-solicitation restriction in paragraph 5 clearly identifies the
class of persons with whom contact is prohibits – “Customers” that Ms. Leeman
was “wholly or partially responsible for managing, supervising or servicing” in the
“twelve-month period prior to [her] termination” – and Ms. Leeman acknowledged
during her deposition that most of her customers were located in Kokomo and
Logansport. Indiana courts routinely enforce similar non-solicitation provisions.
See Cohoon v. Financial Plans & Strategies, Inc., 760 N.E.2d 190, 195-96 (Ind.
App. 2001); Norlund v. Faust, 675 N.E.2d 1142, 1155 (Ind. App. 1997); Field v.
Alexander & Alexander of Indiana, Inc., 503 N.E.2d 627, 635-636 (Ind. App.
1987); Seach v. Richards, Dieterle & Co., 439 N.E.2d 208, 214-215 (Ind. App.
Restrictions such as those in paragraph 5 are valid and enforceable, if “the
restraint is  reasonably necessary to protect the employer,  is not
unreasonably restrictive of the employee, and  is not against public policy.”
Harvest Ins. Agency, Inc. v. Inter-Ocean Ins. Co., 492 N.E.2d 686, 688-689 (Ind.
Ms. Leeman hasn’t shown that the “Restrictions After Termination” are
unreasonable, legally unenforceable, or against any public policy. Neither the
confidentiality provision nor the non-solicitation provision prevents her from
working in the industry, and both are reasonable and narrowly tailored to protect
Regions’ legitimate interest in its goodwill and confidential and proprietary
information. See Coffman v. Olson & Co., P.C., 906 N.E.2d 201 (Ind. App. 2009);
Press-A-Dent, Inc. v. Weigel, 849 N.E.2d 661 (Ind. App. 2006); McGlothen v.
Heritage Environmental Svcs, LLC, 705 N.E.2d 1069 (Ind. App. 1999); Licocci v.
Cardinal Assocs., Inc., 445 N.E.2d 556, 561 (Ind. 1983) (“advantageous familiarity
and personal contact which employees derive from dealing with an employer’s
customers are elements of an employer’s ‘goodwill’ and a protectable interest
which may justify a restraint.”); Commercial Bankers Life Ins. Co. v. Smith, 516
N.D.2d 110, 112 (Ind. App. 1987) (“[A]n employer can ‘validly contract’ to prevent
an employee representative from using [an employee’s] relationship [with clients]
for h[er] own benefit or for the benefit of a competitor.”). Even if the provisions
were over-reaching and invalid, the Agreement contains a severability provision
(¶ 11). Regions is therefore entitled to judgment in its favor on Count 1.
B. Breach of Contract (Count 2)
Ms. Leeman contends that Regions breached the 2006 Agreement by
unilaterally changing the rates of compensation on co-managed accounts in June
2012 and January 2015. unilaterally changing the compensation rate on accounts
reassigned from departing producers in June 2014, and reassigning small
accounts (accounts generating $1,500 or less in annual revenue) to Region’s Small
Business/RIG Select Unit in July 2014.
In response and support of its summary judgment motion, Regions argues
(1) The June 2012 rate change was an “implied modification.”
Contract modifications can be implied from the conduct of the parties, see
Stamm v. TigerTech Investments, Inc., No. 1:11cv1686, 2013 WL 1093033
(S.D. Ind. Mar. 15, 2013); Gilliana v. Paniaguas, 708 N.E.2d 895, 897 (Ind.
App. 1999); City of Indianapolis v. Twin Lakes Enterprises, Inc., 568 N.E.2d
1073, 1084-85 (Ind. App. 1991), and Ms. Leeman effectively consented to
the modification when she continued to work for Regions for almost three
years after the change and to accept payments at the reduced rate.
(2) The 2006 Agreement doesn’t contain any provision about
compensation for accounts reassigned from departing producers, so Regions
could modify that rate at any time, even if the producers didn’t agree.
(3) Regions reserved the right to reassign accounts in paragraph 7 of
the Agreement, and exercised that right in July 2014, when it reassigned
all small accounts to the Small Business/RIG Select Unit.
(4) The rate change proposed for pre-existing co-managed accounts
in January 2015 was “reversed” after the producers complained, and
producers’ accounts (including Ms. Leeman’s) were retroactively credited for
any lost compensation, so Ms. Leeman didn’t suffer any damage as a result
of the alleged breach.
(5) Ms. Leeman was an employee at will, so Regions had the right to
terminate her employment with or without cause when she didn’t agree to
the new compensation rates and refused to sign the Amendment.
Ms. Leeman didn’t respond to Regions’ motion and doesn’t dispute that the
2006 Agreement doesn’t contain any provision about compensation for accounts
reassigned from departing producers, that contract modifications can be implied
from the conduct of the parties, see Stamm v. TigerTech Investments, Inc., No.
1:11cv1686, 2013 WL 1093033 (S.D. Ind. Mar. 15, 2013); Gilliana v. Paniaguas,
708 N.E.2d 895, 897 (Ind. App. 1999); City of Indianapolis v. Twin Lakes
Enterprises, Inc., 568 N.E.2d 1073, 1084-1085 (Ind. App. 1991), or that she
impliedly consented to the 2012 modification when she continued to work for
Regions after the change occurred and to accept payments at the reduced rate.
She hasn’t shown that she’s entitled to judgment as a matter of right on her
breach of contract claim, or that she was damaged when Regions changed the
compensation rate for pre-existing co-managed accounts in 2015.
Accordingly, Regions is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on Count 2.
For the foregoing reasons, Ms. Leeman’s motion for summary judgment on
Counts 1 and 2 [Doc. No. 34] is DENIED, and Regions’ motion for summary
judgment on Counts 1 and 2 [Doc. No. 53] is GRANTED. The summary judgment
motion directed at counts 3-8 will be addressed separately.
March 31, 2017
/s/Robert L. Miller, Jr.
Judge, United States District Court
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