(Bloomberg) -- WellPoint Inc., the second-biggest U.S. health insurer, fired John Cannon, its general counsel and former interim chief executive officer, “without cause.”

Cannon, 59, served as interim CEO for seven months after Angela Braly resigned in August 2012 under shareholder pressure as Indianapolis-based WellPoint missed earnings estimates and cut its forecast twice in four months. Cannon’s firing on Feb. 19 was announced today in a regulatory filing.

In a memo to employees obtained by Bloomberg News, WellPoint CEO Joseph Swedish said he has started a search to find a replacement for Cannon, who was general counsel for seven years. Thomas Zielinski, a partner at Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP, will serve in the post in the interim. Cannon will leave WellPoint on March 3, said Kristin Binns, a company spokeswoman.

“I appreciate his service to our company and ask that you join me in thanking him for his many contributions to WellPoint’s success,” Swedish wrote in the memo. Swedish took over as CEO last March.

WellPoint rose 1.3 percent to $88.86 at 12:59 p.m. New York time. The shares gained 40 percent in the past 12 months through yesterday.

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