Former Adobe employee seeks larger share in anti-poaching settlement

John Ribeiro
21 January, 2015
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 Apple-patent-lawsuit-macworld-australiaMichael Devine, who helped sink an earlier settlement between tech companies and workers in a lawsuit over an alleged conspiracy to prevent poaching of staff, has supported a new settlement proposed last week.

But Devine, a former Adobe Systems engineer, wants his payout from the new settlement to be doubled for his efforts in getting the proposed settlement amount increased.

In a filing in the US District Court, Devine is asking for US$160,000 out of the US$415 million proposed settlement in the class action suit, which if approved would give him twice the payout for the other four named plaintiffs.

District Judge Lucy Koh in August rejected the earlier proposed settlement of US$324.5 million as too low, after Devine also objected to it. The tech workers had alleged that Google, Apple, Intel, Adobe, Intuit, Lucasfilm and Pixar put each other’s employees off-limits to the other companies, in a bid to fix and suppress employee compensation and restrict employee mobility.

The companies had earlier settled similar charges in 2010 with the US Department of Justice but admitted no wrongdoing. They agreed not to ban cold calling and enter into any agreements that prevent competition for employees. But the employees said that the government was unable to compensate the victims of the conspiracy, which was the reason they were filing a suit.

Intuit, Lucasfilm and Pixar previously settled with the workers for about US$20 million.

“Devine believes the request is justified based on his service as a class representative and his work to oppose the original settlement and secure an additional US$90.5 million for the Class,” according to a filing Friday by his lawyer Daniel Girard.

Devine holds that in opposing the original settlement he has taken a higher risk that his participation in this litigation will adversely affect his job prospects, according to the filing.

The proposed settlement has to be approved by the court, and seeks to award “reasonable service award payments of $80,000″ for each of the named plaintiffs for their services. Some 64,000 workers are represented in the class action suit. The lawyers could get about US$85 million from the settlement.

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