Former CATCo CEOs accuse Markel of formulating plan for dismissal

22-02-2019

Former Markel CATCo CEO Anthony Belisle and Bermuda CEO Alissa Fredricks have both filed court cases against Markel for wrongful termination, accusing them of invading their privacy and formulating a plan to create an excuse for their dismissals.

During an internal review into its loss reserves in 2017, Markel said it had discovered evidence of an "undisclosed personal relationship" in the course of the investigation. Belisle and Fredricks were said to have violated Markel policies which lead to prompt action being taken.

Fredricks' filing suggested the defendant's conduct was "wanton, malicious, motivated by ill will and hostility and calculated to lead to a financial gain of tens of millions of dollars."

She accused Markel of invading her privacy, altering the code of conduct to deny her substantial benefits under addendum, falsely stating the relationship was a violation of policy, and false implied the termination was related to the inquiry into loss reserves.

Fredrick suggested this conduct was undertaken in an apparent attempt to cover up the real monetary reason for her and Belisle's termination, and with an apparent goal of hurting her reputation.

Both of the former employees suggested the wrongful terminations were a result of “the improper and unlawful actions of Markel, as well as its wholly owned subsidiary Markel CATCo and others acting at Markel’s behest”. This includes Skadden, the firm employed by Markel to conduct the internal review on its behalf.

Fredricks' filing said that Markel and Skadden representatives “demanded that all employees, including the plaintiff, surrender their personal phones and other business and personal electronic devices” to be searched without disclosing that they would be imaging personal communications such as WhatsApp.

The claimants believed that they did not have a choice and provided the devices “believing that the imaging on the personal cell phones would be limited to company accounts and would not be extended to personal communications”.

Both plaintiffs also said the company had “tarnished” their reputations to prevent them from competing with Markel or Markel CATCo in the future. The filings stated that the employer had also attempted to justify its actions by changing a corporate policy after the employees were terminated to make previous conduct improper.

Fredricks’ document added: “[Such conduct by Markel has included] invading her privacy by accessing highly personal information without authorization, and then using such highly personal information to cause public embarrassment, injury to reputation, and emotional distress; implying in a public announcement that the termination somehow related to an on-going Government inquiry of Markel CATCo, when in fact the events were unrelated…”

As a result, the pair are claiming incentive payments among other monies owed. Belisle said he was owed vested incentive payments around $65.9 million, while Fredricks’ has claimed a minimum of $7.4 million.

Belisle and Fredricks filed their cases separately to district courts in New Hampshire and Massachusetts respectively.

Markel was contacted for comment but had not responded at the time of publication.

Markel CATCo, Legal, North America, Bermuda

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