US: Non-poaching settlement in jeopardy

A federal judge has reportedly expressed concern about approving tech companies’ settlement offer proposed to end a lawsuit filed against the firms’ non-poaching agreements.

US District Judge Lucy Koh said Thursday that the plaintiffs have leverage against the companies, Apple, Google, Adobe and Intel, should they go to trial. The companies offered a $324.5 million settlement to plaintiffs to end litigation after plaintiffs, thousands of Silicon Valley workers, sued the companies in 2011 for antitrust violations, accusing the companies of illegally colluding with each other not to hire each other’s employees.

The plaintiffs were seeking $3 billion in damages, which could be trebled to $9 billion.

But the settlement was reached last April. Now, reports say that deal may not get a pass.

”I just have concerns about whether this is really fair to the class,” Judge Koh said Thursday regarding the settlement. She added that she has not yet made a decision regarding the offer’s approval.

A lawyer for the plaintiffs, however, said that a settlement was likely their best option, noting that the $324.5 million offer is “bar far” the largest antitrust employee settlement ever reached, and that the plaintiffs are facing significant risks if and when the case is appealed.

The lawyer added that the Supreme Court is not likely to hear a case with such a large class.

But Judge Koh was reportedly skeptical that the case would reach the nation’s top court. “if there was gong to be a good case for further restricting class actions, I’m no sure this is the one,” she said.

Full content: Reuters

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