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US: No-hiring defendants pick apart the evidence

 |  April 20, 2014

Defendants facing billions in damages for allegations of anticompetitive non-poaching agreements are looking to have certain types of evidence barred from being admitted to the case, according to reports.

Apple and other tech giants out of Silicon Valley are reportedly requesting that evidence from an earlier case with the Department of Justice be excluded from the current lawsuit accusing the companies of violating antitrust law with their non-compete agreements.

The DOJ first uncovered possible collusion in 2010 when it issued a complaint against Apple, Google, Adobe, Intel, Intuit, LucasFilm and Pixar, accusing the companies of agreeing not to hire each others’ employees.

The companies eventually settled and agreed to no longer enforce such non-compete deals, though did not admit any wrongdoing. LucasFilm, Pixar and Intuit settled the case late last year. US District Judge Lucy Koh gave the final okay to those settlements on Thursday.

The remaining defendants have now asked Judge Koh to declare evidence from the DOJ case as inadmissible, calling the consent decree “hearsay.”

Steve Jobs’s character in question

Plaintiffs in the case are also being challenged over plans to enter into evidence excerpts of Apple founder Steve Jobs’s biography that may portray the executive in a negative light – a factor that defendants say should not be admissible in the case.

Employees that filed the class action have reportedly referred to materials in the case’s pretrial period related to Jobs’s character; while defendants agree that emails between Jobs and other tech executives allegedly discussing their non-poaching agreements are admissible, the companies say that any references to Jobs’s character are “free-floating character assassination.”

According to reports, the plaintiffs referred to a biography of Steve Jobs written by Walter Isaacson, in which the executive is described as a dual “good Steve” and “bad Steve.” One statement reads, “Manipulation, selfishness, or downright rudeness, we couldn’t figure out the motivation behind his madness.”

The tech workers say that not everything in the biography is mere hearsay.

In a separate motion, reports say the class has requested a per se analysis of the allegations, rather than a rule-of-reason analysis, which the plaintiffs say will lead to a mere “quick look” at the charges.

The class is seeking up to $3 billion from the employees for allegations of keeping salaries stagnant thanks to the non-poaching agreements allegedly made between 2005 and 2009The case is set for trial late next month.

Full Content: Courthouse News Service and CIO

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