High-Tech Employee Anti-Poaching
In May 2011, a former Lucasfilm software engineer filed a civil class action lawsuit against Google Inc., Intel Corporation, Apple Inc., Adobe Systems Inc., Lucasfilm Ltd., Intuit Inc. and Pixar for allegedly conspiring to keep employee compensation artificially low by entering into “No Solicitation” agreements and agreeing not to cold call each other’s employees. Similar class action lawsuits soon followed against the same high-tech companies by former employees who had been adversely affected by the allegedly monopolistic business practices.
The class actions followed a Department of Justice probe that was launched in 2010, investigating Google, Intel, Apple, Adobe, Lucasfilm, Intuit and Pixar for allegedly agreeing to not poach each other’s employees. Although a settlement was reached at that time, and defendants agreed to end such anticompetitive agreements, employees harmed by the anti-competitive price-fixing practices received no compensation for their troubles.
“Competition in the labor market results in better salaries, enhanced career opportunities for employees, and better products for consumers,” explained lead attorney Joseph R. Saveri. “We estimate that because of reduced competition for their services, compensation for skilled employees at Adobe, Apple, Google, Intel, Intuit, Lucasfilm, and Pixar was reduced by 10 to 15 percent. These companies owe their tremendous successes to the sacrifices and hard work of their employees, and must take responsibility for their misconduct.”
In October 2011, U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh denied Defendant’s Motion to Stay Discovery in part, and ordered Defendants to produce emails and other documents relating to the prior DOJ investigation. Judge Koh also established a schedule for litigation and set a trial date. Trial is currently set to begin on May 27, 2014.
In January 2012, Judge Koh declared that the civil lawsuit against the high-tech companies could move forward, but that the suit could be broken up into multiple potential class actions.
Later, on April 18, 2012, Judge Koh announced that all antitrust claims could proceed in an order that denied key portions of Defendants’ Motions to Dismiss and rejected their request to dismiss the case.
On June 4, 2012, Judge Koh appointed Joseph Saveri Law Firm as Interim Co-Lead Counsel for Plaintiffs and the Plaintiff Class in the non-poaching litigation.
On November 16, 2012, The U.S. Department of Justice and California Attorney General both announced their filing of civil antitrust lawsuits against online giant eBay Inc. The lawsuits, filed in federal court in San Jose, California, allege that eBay violated federal and California antitrust laws by agreeing not to recruit or hire employees of technology giant Intuit Inc.
On May 10, 2013, Plaintiffs filed their Supplemental Motion and Brief In Support of Plaintiffs Motion for Class Certification.
On July 12, 2013, Plaintiffs and Defendants Pixar and Lucasfilm informed the Court they had reach a settlement.
On July 30, 2013, Plaintiffs and Intuit informed the Court that they had reached a settlement.
On October 24, 2013, the Court certified the litigation class.
On January 14, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied Defendants’ petition for permission to appeal Judge Koh’s October 24, 2013 order granting class action certification.
On January 22, 2014, settlement and opt-out notice was sent out to class members. The notice provides information regarding the two settlements: (1) the settlement with Pixar and Lucasfilm and (2) the settlement with Intuit. It also offers information regarding the certification of the litigation class in the case still pending against Adobe, Apple, Google, and Intel. In addition, the notice provides instructions to class members about (1) how to request the class member’s share of the settlements or to opt out of one or both settlements; and (2) the choice to remain in the ongoing case or to opt out of the litigation class. There is a court imposed deadline of March 19, 2014. For more information, please visit http://www.hightechemployeelawsuit.com.
You may view the notice here.
On February 6, 2014, Plaintiffs filed their Opposition to Defendants’ motions for summary judgment. The brief and the supporting declarations are redacted because they contain material subject to the protective order entered by the Court.
On March 5, 2014, Plaintiffs filed a Notice of Motion and Motion for Attorneys’ Fees, Reimbursement of Expenses, and Service Awards. You may view the Motion along with supporting documentation and statements by Class Representatives.
On March 28, 2014, the Court issued an Order denying the Motions for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Intel, Apple, Adobe, and Google.
On April 4, 2014, the Court issued an Order denying Defendants’ Joint Motion for Summary Judgment. The Order also granted in part and denied in part Defendants’ Motion to Strike expert testimony and denied Defendants’ Motion to Exclude Plaintiffs’ expert witness under Daubert.
On April 24, 2014, Plaintiffs and remaining Defendants Adobe, Apple, Google, and Intel informed the Court that the Parties have reached an agreement to settle all outstanding claims.
On May 22, 2014, Plaintiffs submitted their Motion for Preliminary Approval of Class Action Settlement with Defendants Adobe, Apple, Google, and Intel. View the Motion, Settlement Agreement, supporting documents and Plaintiffs’ statements.
On June 12, 2014, Plaintiffs filed a Reply Brief supporting their Motion for Preliminary Approval and responding to an Objection to the Settlement.
On August 8, 2014, the Court issued an Order denying Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary Approval of Class Action Settlement.
On September 4, 2014, Defendants Adobe, Apple, Google, and Intel filed a Petition for Writ of Mandamus in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit requesting issuance of a writ directing the district court (1) to vacate its order denying preliminary approval of the $324.5 million settlement and (2) to enter an order granting preliminary approval.
On September 8, 2014, the Court issued a Case Management Order setting a new trial date of April 9, 2015.
On September 22, 2014, the Ninth Circuit issued an Order finding that the Petition for Writ of Mandamus filed by Defendants Adobe, Apple, Google, and Intel raised issues that warrant a response and directing the real parties in interest to file a response within 21 days.
On October 14, 2014, Plaintiffs and Real Parties in Interest Mark Fichtner, Siddharth Hariharan, and Daniel Stover filed a Response and Plaintiff and Real Party in Interest Michael Devine filed a Response requesting dismissal of the writ petition.
On January 15, 2015, Plaintiffs submitted a new Motion for Preliminary Approval of Class Action Settlement requesting that the Court approve a new $415 million proposed settlement to resolve all outstanding claims against Defendants Adobe, Apple, Google, and Intel.
On March 3, 2015, the Court issued an Order granting the Motion for Preliminary Approval of the new $415 million settlement. The Order calls for class members to be mailed notice of the new settlement on April 6, 2015, establishes a deadline for opting out or objecting to the settlement of May 21, 2015, and schedules a hearing to consider final approval of the settlement on July 9, 2015 at 1:30 p.m.
On September 2, 2015, the Court issued an Order granting the Plaintiff’s Motion for Final Approval of the 64,466 member Class Action settlement. Following this, an Order was issued granting in part and denying in part the motions for attorneys fees and reimbursement of expenses. The order has granted attorneys fees totaling $40 million of the requested $81 million.
As of September 2, 2015, the case has been closed and dismissed with a final Judgment.