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Trial Date Set in Silicon Valley Anti-Poaching Labor Case

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By William Peacock, Esq. on September 05, 2014 11:55 AM

The date is set. The witnesses are being prepped. And the lawyers are under more pressure than ever to come up with a reasonable settlement.

Have you been missing out on the real-life Silicon Valley drama (as opposed to the hilarious HBO dramedy)? Apple, Intel, Google, and Adobe allegedly agreed to not poach each others' talent, creating the sort of anticompetitive agreement that depresses salaries.

Though initial estimates of the companies' exposure were in the billions range, the companies settled for ... $324 million, a number that made us get our eyes checked, caused one plaintiff to file a formal rejection, and which U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh soundly rejected.

Will we see another settlement, or will his head to trial in early January?

Deadline: Jan. 12

According to The Wall Street Journal, Judge Koh has set the following key dates for the case:

  • Dec. 18 - pretrial conference
  • Jan. 12 - trial date
  • March 9 - alternate trial date

Judge Koh estimated that the trial would last 17 days. The tech companies told the court that they may call as many as 70 witnesses, while the aggrieved workers said they might call 37.

What's a Fair Figure?

Judge Koh, when she rejected the settlement, suggested that $380 million might be an appropriate figure, considering previous settlements with other companies that are no longer party to the suit.

However, the plaintiffs' experts previously estimated the workers' injuries at $3.05 billion (with the possibility of treble damages at trial). And if $324 million ($3,750 per worker) drew objections, will an additional $56 million (less, once the attorneys take their tithe) satiate the objectors?

There is a lot of evidence to support the plaintiffs' claims, including "smoking gun" emails that were sent back-and-forth between the CEOS (including the late Steve Jobs). And the previous settlements (which justified Judge Koh's figure) were from when the plaintiffs' were in a weaker position.

A settlement seems like a near certainty at this point -- the only question is for how much? (And will any more mass murderers file hand-written objections?)

Come on back for the next episode report.

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