A former board member and attorney for a group of insurance companies has filed suit against the companies, claiming he was fired after he refused to lie to a state government official.

Randall Abbott claims defendants IFG Companies, First Financial Company, Burlington Insurance Company, Alamance Insurance Company and Guilford Insurance Company were attempting to obtain licenses in Missouri so they could expand to that state. In May of 2008, IFG Vice President and defendant Michael Freeman allegedly asked Abbott to lie to a Missouri Department of Insurance financial analyst so the application would be approved, according to the complaint filed Dec. 30 in Madison County Circuit Court.

Defendant secretary Arleen Simons allegedly prepared a letter containing false information that was given to Abbott to sign, the suit states.

However, Abbott refused to sign the letter and to provide the false information, the complaint says. Instead, he claims he provided accurate information to the Missouri officials.

At the time of the alleged incidents, Abbott was working as a board member for Alamance Insurance Company and Guilford Insurance Company, as well as defendant First Financial Insurance Company, according to the complaint. He was also working as an attorney for defendants First Financial Insurance Company, Burlington and IFG Companies, the suit states.

Because of Abbott's refusal to lie to Missouri officials, the defendants allegedly retaliated against him, forcing him to sign a release of claims under duress in November 2009 and releasing him from his job as an attorney, the complaint says.

"The duress included economic duress in the form of offering to continue plaintiff's health insurance benefits for a period of time in order to buy plaintiff's silence concerning the public policy violations while simultaneously precluding him from obtaining his own health insurance by terminating his services as an attorney," the suit states.

In addition, the defendants allegedly refused to provide Abbott with a replacement secretary and refused to replace Abbott's outdated equipment, he claims.

Because of the defendants' actions, Abbott claims he suffered emotional distress and damage to his reputation.

Abbott also names IFG majority owner Robert David Linton Jr., Burlington Insurance Company Head of Claims Frank Dent, claims manager Wilson Modernal and IFG Vice President for Personnel Matters Carol K. Hennrikus as defendants.

In his 11-count complaint, Abbott is seeking a judgment of more than $550,000, plus other relief the court deems just.

He will be represented by Roy C. Dripps of Armbruster, Dripps, Winterscheidt and Blotevogel in Alton.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 11-L-1448.

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