Adobe (ADB), Apple (AAPL), Google (GOOG) and Intel (INTC) reportedly have agreed to up their settlement offer to $415 million from the prior $324.5 million to conclude a high-profile, class action antitrust suit in which the IT heavyweights allegedly conspired not to hire each other’s top engineering talent.
The two sides earlier agreed to settle the case for the lower amount but U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh rejected the proposed deal, ruling the amount was too low.
While no official statement of the settlement terms has surfaced, the NY Times reported the figure at $415 million. The deal is said to have gained the approval of the plaintiff’s attorneys, and barring the judge again rejecting the settlement amount, the four defendants will have successfully headed off a potentially embarrassing lawsuit along with with the accompanying muddy publicity.
"I can only confirm there is a new settlement but cannot provide other details at this time," Daniel C. Girard, a lawyer for the workers, wrote in a January 14 email to IDG News.
An Intel spokesman also confirmed in an email that a settlement had been reached. Papers are expected to be filed with the court on January 15. The proposed settlement still requires the court’s approval to stand.
Had last summer’s initial settlement figure stood, the 64,000 class members in the lawsuit each would have received but a few thousand dollars. In dismissing the proposed deal, Judge Koh figured the plaintiffs each would receive less than workers in a prior $20 million settlement between Intuit, LucasFilm and Pixar in the same case last year. She concluded that, if anything, the plaintiffs case had grown stronger in the ensuing time between the two settlement agreements.
"The court concludes that the remaining defendants should, at a minimum, pay their fair share as compared to the settled defendants, who resolved their case with plaintiffs at a stage of the litigation where defendants had much more leverage," Koh wrote in court documents.
Much of the blame for the hiring conspiracy landed on the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs but former Google chief and current executive chairman Eric Schmidt and Intuit chairman Bill Campbell came in for their share of culpability.
"There is substantial and compelling evidence that Steve Jobs ... was a, if not the, central figure in the alleged conspiracy," Koh said.