Weber Shandwick and H+K settle dispute out of court

DALLAS: Weber Shandwick and Hill+Knowlton Strategies have settled their long-running legal dispute out of court.

DALLAS: Weber Shandwick and Hill+Knowlton Strategies have settled their long-running legal dispute out of court.

In February, A Dallas district court judge extended Weber Shandwick's restraining order against Hill+Knowlton Strategies and two senior executives at the firm - COO Ken Luce and EVP Jody Venturoni, both former Weber employees.

Weber accused Luce and Venturoni in January of stealing confidential information, clients, and employees from their former employer.

In conjunction with today's settlement, Venturoni released the following statement:

“During my last year of employment with Weber Shandwick and immediately after my resignation, I took confidential information belonging to Weber Shandwick. I shared some of this information with employees at Hill & Knowlton.

"This information has since been returned to Weber Shandwick or destroyed. Weber Shandwick took justified legal action to protect its own business interests and those of its clients. We have reached a confidential settlement of this matter.”

District court judge Emily Toblowsky initially extended the restraining order through May 4, when the two sides were due at a hearing in Dallas.

Weber alleged in January that H+K tried to lure other former colleagues and clients to H+K despite signing agreements pledging not to do so, according to court documents seen by PRWeek at the time.

The IPG agency also claimed Venturoni sent confidential information to a personal account from her company email address while still working for the firm, according to court filings.

In a statement accompanying the settlement, Weber said: “We are extremely disappointed by the actions of Ken Luce and Jody Venturoni, but we are pleased with the conditions and terms of the settlement.”

Venturoni, who joined H+K in January, was Weber's Southwest president for 13 years, while Luce, a 15-year veteran of Weber and its former Southwest and California market president, resigned in fall 2010. Luce started work at H+K in January 2011.

In a statement, H+K said: “We regret the circumstances that led Weber Shandwick to take legal action against H+K and certain of its employees. We understand Weber Shandwick took this action to protect its business interests. We have reached a confidential settlement of these matters.”

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