Google, Apple $415M deal with tech workers gets final approval

The payment to lawyers and initiators of the case has been reduced

A court in California has approved a US$415 million settlement between tech workers and Intel, Google, Apple and Adobe Systems, who were accused of conspiring to prevent the poaching of each other's employees.

The final approval has, however, reduced significantly the sums to be paid to lawyers and the class representatives who had initiated the court action.

The tech workers, who filed the suit, had alleged that Google, Apple, Intel, Adobe, Intuit, Lucasfilm and Pixar had engaged in an "overarching conspiracy" to fix and suppress employee compensation and to restrict employee mobility. Intuit, Lucasfilm and Pixar had previously settled with the workers for about $20 million.

Judge Lucy H. Koh of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose division on Wednesday described the settlement, for which she had given a preliminary approval in March, as "fair, adequate, and reasonable." She added that the court was convinced that the settlement was arrived at after arm's length negotiations and was not the result "of fraud, overreaching, or collusion among the parties."

The lawsuit was one of the more high-profile class action cases in Silicon Valley, involving as evidence emails sent between the late Apple chief Steve Jobs and other key Silicon Valley executives like Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt and cofounder Sergey Brin.

Judge Koh last year rejected a proposed settlement of $324.5 million, which she found was too low.

Out of 64,466 class members, only 11 or about 0.017 percent of the class submitted objections to the current settlement. In addition, only 56 class members, or less than 0.09 percent have opted out of the settlement, according to the judge. The opt-outs are also lower than the 4 percent of class members required for the companies to ask for a pro-rata reduction in the settlement amount.

In the payment to lawyers, Judge Koh, however used a formula mainly based on the time spent by the counsel on the litigation, and then using a multiplier, rather than calculating payment as percentage of the settlement amount as that would amount to a windfall profit for the lawyers. The counsel for plaintiffs sought a total of over $85 million or 20.6 percent of the $415 million settlement in attorney’s fees.

Adding the $5 million in attorney’s fees already awarded to class counsel in the earlier settlements with Pixar, Lucasfilm, and Intuit, counsel for plaintiffs in this case would be seeking a total of 20.8 percent or $90 million from both settlements, the judge wrote.

The court instead awarded the counsel a total of close to $41 million, which does not include the $5 million in fees awarded in the settlements with Pixar, Lucasfilm and Intuit. The reduction in fees will increase the recovery by class members by $700 to about $5,770 per person.

Judge Koh also reduced the "service awards" to class representatives. The second settlement aimed to award “reasonable service award payments of $80,000” to each of the five plaintiffs for their services. Michael Devine, a former Adobe engineer, who had opposed the earlier $324.5 million settlement, had asked that his payout from the new settlement should be doubled to $160,000 for his efforts in getting the proposed settlement amount increased. Devine appeared through his own counsel.

At a hearing on preliminary approval, however, the class counsel sought the court’s permission to seek up to $160,000 per class representative, which was allowed. Judge Koh has, however, awarded $120,000 to Devine and $80,000 to each of the others. They have already received $20,000 each from the settlement with Pixar, Lucasfilm and Intuit.

Judge Koh said that, among other contributions, each of these persons had "risked significant workplace retaliation by serving as a named plaintiff in this high-profile lawsuit." But the high media coverage for Devine made it likely that he would find it even more difficult to get a job again in the tech industry, hence the higher payout, the judge wrote.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?