Silicon Valley powers Apple, Google, Adobe Systems and Intel have appealed a federal judge’s decision to scrap a $324 million settlement over alleged illegal hiring practices, calling her August decision to reject the deal a “clear error.”
In a legal salvo designed to revive the pact, lawyers for the companies Thursday urged the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to intervene and resurrect a settlement that would have given an average payout of $3,750 each to about 64,000 employees covered by the 3-year-old lawsuit.
U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh rejected the settlement last month, determining that it was inadequate compensation in a case where “there is ample evidence of an overarching conspiracy” among the companies. The class-action lawsuit alleged that top executives of the tech giants, including late Apple CEO Steve Jobs and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, cut secret deals to keep each other from raiding rival workforces.
Lucasfilm, Pixar and Intuit previously settled the same allegations in a $20 million deal approved by Koh. But the judge concluded that the payout by the primary defendants should be well above the $324 million, a figure opposed by one of the lead plaintiffs in the case who argued for a heftier settlement. The plaintiffs earlier in the case assessed damages at $3 billion.
Apple, Google, Adobe and Intuit have asked Koh to put the case on hold while they pursue relief in the 9th Circuit. The judge earlier in the week set a January trial date if the companies do not come up with a new settlement.