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UHC Wins Injunction in Non-Compete Case Against Former Employee

A UnitedHealth sign in front of an office building.

Minneapolis, United States - May 29, 2016: UnitedHealthcare corporate headquarters exterior and sign. UnitedHealth Group Inc. is an American diversified managed health care company.

On Monday, Judge Edmund A. Sargus ruled in favor of United Healthcare Services Inc. and UnitedHealth Group Incorporated (together, United) by granting the company a preliminary injunction against a former employee, Jeffrey Corzine, who United claims violated non-compete and non-solicitation covenants. The court’s 43-page opinion and order addresses United’s motion for a preliminary injunction filed on Jan. 24, the same day of the filing of its Southern District of Ohio complaint.

Judge Sargus explained that since 2008, defendant Corzine was employed with UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Ohio Inc. (Ohio plan), which operates under a contract with the Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) as a benefits plan for Ohio Medicaid beneficiaries. United reportedly won the contract with ODM through competitive procurement in 2012. 

Reportedly, from 2014 to 2019, Corzine worked in a strategic marketing role for the Ohio plan. On Oct. 16, 2019, United terminated Corzine as part of a national restructuring. Corzine was subsequently hired by Humana Inc. in February 2020 as the CEO of Humana’s Medicaid plan in South Carolina. At that time, Humana was preparing to enter the Ohio Medicaid market, and in the fall of 2020, ODM initiated the procurement process by issuing a Request for Applications (RFAs).

The dispute reportedly began when, in January of 2021, United learned that Corzine was involved in Humana’s application to ODM. United alleges that Corzine’s activity at Humana breached the non-competition and non-solicitation covenants contained in contracts Corzine signed while at United.

The court first decided how long the covenants were enforceable for based on the clauses’ “alternative duration” language. It next determined that they were enforceable from the date of termination as Corzine argued, rather than on Feb. 26, 2021, as the plaintiff argued.

Turning to the bulk of United’s preliminary injunction argument, the court found that it met the four conjunctive requirements. Judge Sargus detailed Corzine’s specific involvement in preparing and telephonically presenting Humana’s ODM bid. For example, the opinion states that in March 2020, only five months after his termination from United, Corzine began participating in weekly meetings with Humana’s Ohio business development team, and shortly thereafter, started partaking in Humana’s weekly Ohio RFA strategy meetings.

Judge Sargus also pointed out that “Corzine’s personal connections with the ODM staff on the panel—connections that Corzine developed as a United employee—reflects the reality that Corzine’s strong connections and experience in the Ohio Medicaid market could influence the ODM panel’s evaluation of Humana’s oral presentation.” 

Unlike United, the court noted, Humana did not have prior experience in the Ohio Medicaid market. Ultimately, Corzine “contributed toward Humana’s goal of submitting a successful application to the 2020 RFA and establishing a managed care plan in Ohio,” the court concluded, and thus violated the restrictive covenants.

In turn, the order prohibits Corzine from employment in any role related to Humana’s Ohio Medicaid business and from any other activity that otherwise breaches his covenants, until the Ohio Medicaid contract awards are finalized. The court noted that if they are not completed by Oct. 16, 2021, Corzine may move to lift the injunction.

United is represented by Greene Espel PLLP and Carpenter Lipps & Leland LLP, and the defendant by Squire Patton Boggs and Littleton Joyce Ughetta Park & Kelly LLP.

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