In May, Reuters reported on a settlement between Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe with former employees who claimed the companies were involved in an antitrust violation, this one involving an anti-poaching agreement. Last week, Gigaom reported that the ruling judge in the case, Lucy Koh, rejected the proposed settlement, stating that it was too low. At the time, Gigaom noted that Judge Koh called former Apple CEO Steve Jobs as a central figure in the alleged conspiracy.
This week, we are learning that an Apple shareholder is now suing the company, current CEO Tim Cook, and the estate of Jobs.
The “Shareholder Derivative Complaint” filed in U.S. Court Northern District in San Jose was filed by Andre Klein on behalf of himself and “all other stockholders of Apple, Inc.” It claims that Apple executives brought harm to the company by conspiring with other companies to agree to not hire each other’s employees.
In the 75-page complaint, Klein includes page after page of evidence of the anti-poaching collusion between the four tech companies involved in the original lawsuit, plus evidence that Pixar and LucasFilms participated in similar activities. All of the included information was used in the lawsuit brought on by former employees that sued the companies to begin with.
Klein asserts that the people involved in the lawsuit participated in “wrongful conduct” and “misled and/or deceived its shareholders.” He asks for a jury hearing on five counts, including Violation of the Exchange Act, Breach of Fiduciary Duty and Aiding and Abetting Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Gross Mismanagement, Waste of Corporate Assets, and Breach of duty of Honest Services.
Gigaom points out that Klein will have to prove that Apple has been harmed by these antics, which will be difficult considering the company has been posting quarterly record earnings for years. The tech news site also notes that it is likely Klein is looking for a symbolic settlement, which Apple may agree to in order to avoid going to court over the issue.