Plaintiff Asks Judge to Reject Settlement in Conspiracy Case Involving Google, Apple, Intel and Adobe [NYT]

The tech giants may still get to face court if the judge rejects the deal

One plaintiff in the Silicon Valley hiring scandal is asking the judge to reject the settlement reached by the four firms accused in the case.

Why? Because the $324 million (€235 million) are pocket change for the four giants – Google, Apple, Intel and Adobe.

The suit was supposed to finally go on trial at the end of May, but the four companies decided that they would be better off paying instead of letting company secrets leak out in the media during the hearings.

Most of this data would have been on how the tech leaders conspired to limit wages and competition by agreeing not to fish for each other’s employees. Some information has already leaked, but there is more where that came from and there are certainly plenty of details that could be exposed if the case went to trial.

Instead, Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe decided to settle, hoping that if they pay they’ll all be off the hook and ready to move on, after promising to never do such a thing again.

The New York Times is quoting Michael Devine, a freelance programmer who is one of the plaintiffs named in the suit. He believes that the tech giants are getting off too easily and he sent a letter to the judge handling the case, asking her to reject the deal that his own lawyers worked to negotiate.

“As an analogy, if a shoplifter is caught on video stealing a $400 (€290) iPad from the Apple Store, would a fair and just resolution be for the shoplifter to pay Apple $40 (€29), keep the iPad, and walk away with no record or admission of wrongdoing? Of course not,” he writes in the letter, hoping to sway the judge.

The class action covers about 64,000 employees and after doing a little bit of math, estimates indicate that they all lost a total of $3 billion (€2.18 billion) in compensation. This means that the amount that the companies settled for only represents about a tenth of this value.

Obviously, the settlement is more beneficial for the companies that would not only pay very little, but would also make an embarrassing case vanish. In fact, the class action members would only receive a few thousand dollars, while the lawyers would be paid in the range of tens of millions of dollars.

Devine hopes that other members of the case will decide to join him.

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