Just weeks before it was slated to head to trial, a class-action lawsuit alleging that Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe had conspired to abstain from hiring one another’s engineers has been settled out of court.
The four tech companies will pay a combined $324 million to roughly 64,000 workers, sources told Reuters. That's a paltry sum compared to the $3 billion in damages the workers were seeking at trial, which could have tripled to $9 billion under antitrust law, according to the report.
The case made waves in Silicon Valley -- especially as it provided rare glimpses into email exchanges between the late Steve Jobs and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt. The emails implied that the two execs agreed not to poach one another’s engineers -- in turn driving down potential wages, the suit alleged.
But both sides had incentive for avoiding a trial, which had been scheduled for the end of May, according to Reuters. Whereas the emails would have looked highly unsympathetic to a jury, the plaintiffs risked the court saying the engineers could not sue as a group.
Only an Adobe company representative acknowledged the settlement “in order to avoid the uncertainties, cost and distraction of litigation,” while plaintiff attorney Kelly Dermody called the deal “an excellent resolution.”
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