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Advisory firm BDO sues Ankura over healthcare team defection

Post Time:2024-03-13 Source:Reuters Author:Mike Scarcella Views:

March 12 (Reuters) - Professional services firm BDO USA has lodged a federal trade secrets lawsuit against its smaller rival Ankura Consulting, accusing the company of improperly poaching its healthcare transaction advisory practice with a series of senior-level hires.

The lawsuit, opens new tab, filed on Monday in U.S. district court in Alexandria, Virginia, claims that Ankura unjustly enriched itself through the employee defections from BDO and stole the company's confidential information.

BDO also named as a defendant Phuoc Vin Phan, a former national practice leader of its healthcare transaction advisory team. Phan led the 11-member group from 2019 to January of this year, according to the lawsuit, before jumping to New York-based Ankura. The lawsuit alleged Phan broke his BDO employment agreement in the move.

BDO asked for $60 million in damages and an injunction against any further alleged breaches of its employment agreements.

Ankura and two attorneys who have represented the company in other legal matters did not immediately respond to requests for comment. No attorney had appeared yet for the company or Phan in BDO’s lawsuit.

BDO and two of its lawyers did not immediately respond to similar requests for comment.

Chicago-based BDO, which has more than 65 offices in the United States, offers tax, financial and other advisory services across multiple industries.

The lawsuit alleged Ankura “began plotting in the summer of 2023” to take BDO’s healthcare transaction advisory practice. Phan solicited members of his team to join him at Ankura, according to the lawsuit.

Ankura received confidential business information from BDO through the hiring of Phan and seven other managers, BDO alleged. That information included client and prospective client contacts lists, pricing details and “confidential workpapers and templates.”

BDO said the departures left it “with limited resources to complete ongoing client work, in several instances to the detriment of their work for BDO and harming BDO and its clients.”

The case is BDO USA PC v. Ankura Consulting Group LLC, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, No. 3:24-cv-00179.