U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh rejected as too low a $324.5 million settlement of a class-action lawsuit alleging Intel, Google and Apple conspired with several other technology companies to block their top workers from getting better job offers.
Judge Koh concluded the more than 60,000 high-tech workers represented in the 3-year-old lawsuit deserved to be paid more money, based on the evidence indicating their earning power was undermined by the collusion among their employers.
Koh estimated that the workers should receive at least $380 million. Attorneys representing the workers originally were seeking $3 billion damages before settling for about 10 percent of that amount in a deal reached in April. If $3 billion in damages had been awarded in a trial, it could have been tripled to $9 billion under U.S. antitrust law.
The settlement would have been paid by Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe Systems. The suit alleged they and three other companies – Intuit Inc., Pixar Animation and Lucasfilm – secretly agreed not to recruit each other’s workers during various junctures from 2005 through 2009.
Koh’s ruling prolongs a case that paints a sordid picture of the late Steve Jobs and other prominent Silicon Valley executives.
A $20 million settlement of the claims against Intuit, Pixar Animation and Lucasfilm was approved in June.