Opponent of Apple, Google settlement with workers wants larger cut in new deal

PCWorld News

Michael Devine, who helped sink an earlier settlement between tech companies and workers in a lawsuit over an alleged conspiracy to prevent poaching of staff, has supported a new settlement proposed last week.

But Devine, a former Adobe Systems engineer, wants his payout from the new settlement to be doubled for his efforts in getting the proposed settlement amount increased.

In a filing in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose division, Devine is asking for US$160,000 out of the $415 million proposed settlement in the class action suit, which if approved would give him twice the payout for the other four named plaintiffs.

District Judge Lucy H. Koh in August rejected the earlier proposed settlement of $324.5 million as too low, after Devine also objected to it. The tech workers had alleged that Google, Apple, Intel, Adobe, Intuit, Lucasfilm and Pixar put each other’s employees off-limits to the other companies, in a bid to fix and suppress employee compensation and restrict employee mobility.

The companies had earlier settled similar charges in 2010 with the U.S. Department of Justice but admitted no wrongdoing. They agreed not to ban cold calling and enter into any agreements that prevent competition for employees. But the employees said that the government was unable to compensate the victims of the conspiracy, which was the reason they were filing a suit.

Intuit, Lucasfilm and Pixar previously settled with the workers for about $20 million.

“Devine believes the request is justified based on his service as a class representative and his work to oppose the original settlement and secure an additional $90.5 million for the Class,” according to a filing Friday by his lawyer Daniel C. Girard.

Devine holds that in opposing the original settlement he has taken a higher risk that his participation in this litigation will adversely affect his job prospects, according to the filing.

The proposed settlement has to be approved by the court, and seeks to award “reasonable service award payments of $80,000” for each of the named plaintiffs for their services. Some 64,000 workers are represented in the class action suit. The lawyers could get about $85 million from the settlement.

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