Judge Koh: 60,000 Silicon Valley workers may pursue collusion case against Apple, Google, others as group

“Roughly 60,000 Silicon Valley workers won clearance to pursue a lawsuit accusing Apple Inc, Google Inc and other companies of conspiring to drive down pay by not poaching each other’s staff, after a federal appeals court refused to let the defendants appeal a class certification order,” Jonathan Stempel reports for Reuters. “The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals late on Tuesday let stand an order by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California to let the workers sue as a group, and pursue what the defendants said could exceed $9 billion of damages.”

“The case began in 2011 when five software engineers sued Apple, Google, Adobe Systems Inc, Intel Corp and others over an alleged ‘overarching conspiracy’ to suppress pay by agreeing not to recruit or hire each other’s employees,” Stempel reports. “Class certification can make it easier for plaintiffs to extract larger awards, at lower cost than if they sued individually. It could also add pressure on defendants to settle.”

“In seeking the appeal, the companies had called Koh’s order ‘manifestly erroneous.’ They said that the claims were too disparate because they covered employees with 2,400 job titles at seven companies, and that the plaintiffs did not allege any impact on total hiring,” Stempel reports. “Much of the case was built on emails between top officials, including the late Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs and former Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt, that the plaintiffs said reflected understandings not to raid each other’s talent.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related articles:
Steve Jobs threatened patent suit to enforce no-hire policy, according to court filing – January 23, 2013
Judge Koh orders Apple CEO Tim Cook to four hours of questioning in anti-poaching case – January 17, 2013
Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe, Intuit, Pixar, and Lucasfilm fail to get staff-poaching antitrust lawsuit dismissed – April 19, 2012
Court filing: Steve Jobs told Google’s Schmidt to stop poaching workers – January 27, 2012
Did Apple CEO Steve Jobs ask Palm’s Colligan to collude? – August 20, 2009
Did Apple and Google make an anti-poaching deal? – August 9, 2009

53 Comments

    1. Thelonious, you have some good comments to make. But your persistent and consistent attempts to link judgments from a federal judge (who was originally appointed as a state judge by REPUBLICAN governor Schwarzenegger) and ratified by the 9th Cir. Ct. of Appeals to Obama are laughable. They destroy any credibility you may have had and put you in the same category of idiots as BLN, First xx, and the other right wing nut jobs. And your ignorance of this country’s legal system is astonishing.

      1. And your reference to all the “other” people who disagree with you as idiots and nut jobs show a general prejudice and intolerance. But you did start with a compliment, so I will respect that part of your post. It does seem to me that the 9th has a tendency to make laws through judicial action and overreach. It will be interesting to see if the plaintiffs can prove real damages. I don’t see the evil corporate conspiracy here. What I see is a deteriorating environment for business in California and a tendency to punish success. I don’t know anything about Judge Koh, but I wonder if she sees herself as an activist more than an arbiter of justice.

        1. I did not refer to all the other people who disagree with me as idiots and nut jobs. But I guess you’ll hear what you want to hear.

          Many of the posters on this board have intelligent things to say and have no need to bring their political views into almost every discussion. I agree with some of their views and not others.

          But a vocal few do politicize almost every discussion on here and never hesitate to spout their extremist views. They are either nut jobs or paid shills.

      2. Nomination to the United States District Court

        On January 20, 2010, President Barack Obama nominated Koh on the recommendation of California Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein to a seat on the United States District Court for the Northern District of California vacated by Judge Ronald M. Whyte, who assumed senior status in 2009.[2] On March 4, 2010, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to move her nomination to the full Senate.[5]
        The Senate confirmed Koh in a 90-0 vote on June 7, 2010.[6] She received her commission on June 9, 2010.

        1. In January 2008, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Koh a judge on the Superior Court of California for Santa Clara County, a position she held until becoming a U.S. district judge in 2010. (Wikipedia)

    2. “This administration can’t leave soon enough.”

      Do you think that when the president leaves office, all those appointed under him have to leave too?????

      I think you may be in error, big time here. 🙁

      PS, many of the people in office now came in under republican leaders too. Just saying.

    3. Some individuals who will have some very tenuous claims will be pleased to realize that they can now hide behind other more genuine claimants. Just a thought, what would happen should those companies export those jobs to countries where employees are more loyal to their employers?
      The jobs America want to see back on American soil that may have been brought back despite the cost and lack of a highly skilled workforce may have just gotten further away from the American shore. The attitude of party today and damn the future of your kids has got to change and very quickly too.

  1. Not to worry, Judge Koh will find Apple guilty and fine them $2 billion and let Google off the hook with a misdemeanor charge.

    The Nest thermostat in her house is secretly transmitting anti Apple messages sublimely into her ear while she sleeps. $3.2 billion seems cheap now when you think of it.

  2. Judge Koh is brought to you by Barack Hussein Obama. This type of Federal judge is what you get when you elect a communist as President. He hates capitalism. Every day we see attacks on the private economy by Obama and his army of Marxist henchpeople. For those of you who get your daily news from Jon Stewart and the Daily Show it is understandable you voted for this oaf. You are lazy and ignorant. So, you have helped the tyrant to enslave you. Now, the Constitution is dead (Obama does not like its limits on executive authority) and he is using pure executive power to do whatever he wants. Judge Koh reports to him.

    1. When the judiciary is but an extension of the executive arm, rather than its check and balance, then you descend into the depths of communism.

      Koh is Obama’s blunt instrument against the forces of free market dynamics. The other communist angel of vengeance is Judge Cote.

      When Eva Braun joined the Führerbunker in April 1945, the inhabitants knew the end was near and dubbed her the angel of death ‘Engel des Todes’. Koh & Cote are Obama’s angels of death. The death of free market economics as we know it.

      1. As if we needed BLN to weigh in with his support. Now the “tyrant” becomes “Hitler” leading “angels of death.” What utter bullcrap. Do you actually believe what you post? It is hard to believe that a real thought can get past the ossified doctrine left in whatever remained in your skull after a zombie buffet.

        You are an incredible waste of negative entropy, and I don’t mean that in a small way. I mean that in a very big way.

        1. Unless you like being ruled by a dictator (and an incredibly obnoxious and ignorant one at that) then you should understand that Ballmer’s Left Nut is absolutely right? Or do you simply like “executive orders” being the way we are now run? And lies – like “you can keep your Doctor”, “you will save $2500 per year”, “if elected I will reduce the deficit in half”. All pure lies. Everything he says is a lie.

          1. Bush filed more “Executive orders” that past presidents, many of which were deemed un-constitutational. Like or do not like the current President, but please keep your political rants off this site (unless you can do so with extreme humor).

            Just asking.

      2. I’m with you, nut!!!

        Pathetic marxist brain-dead lemming blah blah blah!!! zombies blah liars statist assholes blah blah!!!!! socialist blah blah! card-carrying communists anti-family un-American scum blah blah!!!! Obama messiah!… (choke cough spit drool scream of inarticulate rage)

    2. Stupid rant from a clearly stupid person.

      On the one hand, you would have me believe that various Republicans (including the bridge shutdown associated with Chris Christie) knew absolutely nothing about whatever unethical or illegal events were associated with their organizations. In addition, that lack of knowledge is perfectly plausible and understandable.

      On the other hand, absolutely every detail of every activity and/or organization in the United States since January 2009 (or even before) is the direct responsibility of President Obama. In addition, there is no excuse for any lack of knowledge on the part of President Obama.

      You are so biased and extremist in your views that it is impossible to take anything you say seriously. It is either your way or wrong, and that is total McCarthyistic bullcrap from paranoia-ville. Your utter certainty is matched only by your utter lack of reason.

      1. kentsux: I think this describes kent, BLN, Thelonious, First xx and the others:
        “If you argue with a madman, it is extremely probable that you will get the worst of it; for in many ways his mind moves all the quicker for not being delayed by things that go with good judgment. He is not hampered by a sense of humour or by clarity, or by the dumb certainties of experience. He is the more logical for losing certain sane affections. Indeed, the common phrase for insanity is in this respect a misleading one. The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason.” (G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, 1909)

      2. You are an excrement head.

        I believe Chris Christie is an arrogant lying corrupt puke. So there. He should not be in a leadership position, but the people in NJ are as stupid as you so they elected him.

        Obama is a self professed communist. He was raised by a communist grandfather and pedophile friend, Frank Davis. He said he gravitated to the communist professors at Columbia and Harvard. He went to a communist church for 20 years. He said he would “spread the wealth” when running. And he now implements communist policy. I can’t help it you are completely ignorant of facts that are easy to find.

        Now, Obama states he will govern by executive order. A novel concept in America, but now the Left, with shitheads like you, is OK with a tyrant running things by decree. And with all lies – see every key selling point of Obamacare – the brilliant 2500 page bill nobody read before voting for it – which is now destroying our health system. You are a pathetic, ignorant, “useful idiot” (Lenin’s term). But, you do feel very “cool” because you get your news from Comedy Central. That makes you among the smartest and coolest. Yeah, right.

        1. I’ve got to tell you folks, both Democrats and Republicans suck. If you think any differently your nuts. They both are beholding to lobby groups that ply their self service crap upon the great unwashed.

          1. Then go forth as a Constitutional Libertarian – make the Constitution and the Bill of Rights your banner! Let it’s structure form your logic. That said, Obama, unions, Crony government on both sides of the aisle, judges acting against state sovereignty and the overwhelming will of the people (I’m pro gay marriage, but believe the Constitution left such matters to the States – Prop 8 in Calif and similar rulings in Utah and OK show judicial overreach) are quickly turning us in to an administrative dictatorship. So why do Koh’s decisions surprise anyone – she is merely an extension of the executive branch’s vision of fundamentally transforming America

      1. Who was Arnold’s wife? At present, a Republican in California is a soft core socialist. Obama put the Koh idiot on the Federal bench. Do you think he did that because she was a conservative free market type? He did it because she is a fellow traveler.

          1. My guess is that you believed Obama when he said, “you can keep your plan” (lie), “you will save $2500 per year” (lie), “you can keep your doctor” (lie), “this “will eliminate the uninsured”, (lie – will be 30 million uninsured when it is fully in), “our Ambassador, sadly, was killed because ordinary Libyans got mad about a video posted on youtube by an evil person in the US, who I have had put in prison” (lie – the Ambassador was raped and killed while Obama slept and then went to a rich, fat cat fundraiser in Las Vegas. Terrorist did this and Obama knew it but lied because he is a liar). You like a liberal liar. I don’t know why, but my guess is you are incredibly ignorant but think yourself extremely smart. Of course, you get your news from Comedy Central.

            1. Obama didn’t lie about keeping policies, but his policy wonks didn’t anticipate the for-profit insurers doing an end-run around the law. He was mistaken and it was badly handled, but he didn’t lie – which requires the deliberate telling of untruths. As for Benghazi, even you should know by now that it was a CIA outpost that the CIA wanted to keep shrouded in secrecy. It will be 50 years before the truth can come out because the documents are classified, but it’s already known that the CIA was in charge of security there, the “civilians” killed were CIA contractors, and the CIA didn’t (and still doesn’t) want the truth to come out because it would harm national security.
              As for actual lies – Bush lied about WMD in Iraq and over 4,600 Americans have been killed for that lie. Hundreds of thousands more maimed and wounded. And hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis have been killed. Cheney and Rove deliberately outed a serving CIA agent because her husband exposed their lies about yellowcake – killing scores more Iraqis who were actively helping the US. And then they threw Libby under the bus to protect themselves.

              I suspect you get your information from Fox “News” – the viewers of which have been shown to be the most misinformed in the US.

            2. No – he lied. He repeated these lies about 50 times, because they were crucial to gaining support. If he described it as it is nobody would have voted for this. If he were the CEO of a private company and a product were sold based on similar lies by the CEO, that CEO would be in jail. Where Obama should be.

      2. That only gives more evidence how far removed that Schwarzenegger was from the core of the Republican party, he’s what many would call a RINO, Republican in Name Only. He also passed a punishing global warming bill that will help the continued crush on businesses in the state. There has been an exodus of wealth and legal citizens out of the state as poor and illegal immigrant families pour in, that has been occurring for about 20 years. The state has been slowly going downhill, but the process will start to rapidly accelerate in the wake of the total control the Democratic party now has on the state with nary a single Republican in power in any branch and the Democrats having a supermajority of the legislative body.

        California used to be in a position of leadership and a shining example of excellence. The union run corrupt state will rapidly follow Detroit into the gutter with only the weather being nicer. Schwarzenegger was a very disappointing governor but not surprisingly so.

    1. Yep. There are lots of places more friendly to business than California, both inside and outside the US. As a longtime resident of the Golden State, I am sad to see it. I was thinking of the last or one of the last public appearances of Steve Jobs before the Cupertino City Council, where he was asked if Apple would provide free wi-fi to the citizens of Cupertino. He shot back at the pol with the suggestion that it would be better to have Apple supply high-paying jobs for taxpayers instead. Maybe finding a state where you can hire the people you want to hire and the actually want to work would be a better deal

  3. The only question before the judge was whether the claims of the 60,000 potential plaintiffs should be resolved through ONE lawsuit, which Apple might win (resolving the dispute fairly quickly, or through 60,000 lawsuits that might tie the parties and the courts up for a decade more. This ruling has nothing to do with the validity of the underlying claims. The plaintiffs are just being given the chance to prove the existence of a grand conspiracy… If they can. If it did exist, it would be pretty outrageous. Imagine if your employer could treat you as badly as it wished, knowing you could not get another job if you quit.

  4. “Class certification can make it easier for plaintiffs to extract larger awards, at lower cost than if they sued individually. It could also add pressure on defendants to settle.”

    Unfortunately, no. Jonathan Stempel is completely delusional if he actually believes this.

    Class certification makes it easier for the lawyers involved, allows them to get fees based upon the *entire class* and ends up giving each individual in the class a tiny fraction of what they might have gotten in a direct lawsuit. We all know of cases where the lawyers got 100% of their inflated expenses, millions of dollars in fees and the members of the class won tens of dollars (not millions, or thousands or even hundreds of dollars) each. In in many, many class action suits a huge fraction of the members of the class never file the paperwork to get the pittance coming to them. In the vast majority of cases class action lawsuits benefit no one but the lawyers.

    1. What you say is true, but only to an extent. What you describe is the barrel bottom of class action lawsuits, where plaintiffs have virtually no damages but lawyers create a lawsuit to benefit no one but themselves. I recently received a $4 check because Sears sold me a lawnmower that apparently cut 1″ smaller diameter than advertized. I knew nothing about it until the check arrived – they got my details from Sears.

      BUT – there are worthwhile class action lawsuits. Korean car companies Hyundai and Kia cheated on the gas mileage they said their cars got, and a class action lawsuit has forced them to correct the numbers and pay compensation, based on miles driven (and going forward), for what people who bought those cars thought they would get. LG and Samsung cheated on “Energy Star” figures of electricity used by their fridges, and so had to change the numbers and reimburse users for the extra cost of electricity. The payments, though small to individuals, add up and stop the companies from profiting from their misdeeds. And they are made to stop their illegal practices. No consumer by his/her self could afford to do that. And if the government took out an enforcement action, why should the gov’t get the money?

      In other cases, plaintiffs get tens of thousands of dollars when they have been really harmed. But no individual could fight a lawsuit against a large corporation for a few tens of thousands. Class actions are a mechanism where the legal costs are spread and so do have a good and valid place in the legal system.

      This suit against the tech companies could fall somewhere between these two types. It will prevent them from using the practice (if indeed it happened), and will compensate the employees who were prevented from selling their skills to who they wanted.

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