Plaintiff Trial Attorneys Cite Email Threads as Key Evidence in Antitrust Litigation
One of the ongoing themes in our blogs is how email threads are not only relevant in civil litigation, but they can also be critical evidence to a case. This is particularly true for plaintiff electronic discovery requests against large corporations, as internal emails often reflect candor and truth not found in formal documents.
This issue is demonstrated yet again in the ongoing case In Re: High-Tech Employee Antitrust Litigation, 11-CV-2509-LHK (N.D. Ca.). The case is an antitrust lawsuit following an investigation by the Department of Justice. Plaintiffs are IT professionals alleging unlawful “anti-poaching agreements” between major tech companies created to fix and suppress compensation in violation of the Sherman Act.
Electronic discovery conducted in the lawsuit has exposed email threads between the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs and former chief executive for Palm, Edward Colligan. In the emails, Jobs suggested the two companies agree to refrain from poaching each other’s workers. The emails also may be construed as Jobs’ threating Colligan that if he did not agree, his company would face patent lawsuits filed by Apple.
However, not every named defendant left electronic evidence via email. A witness testified that Google’s former chief executive, now executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, advised his human resources director to discuss the no-hire agreements verbally only, as to not create a paper trail to be uncovered in a potential future lawsuit.
The judge will next determine whether to certify the case as a class action. Discovery is ongoing, and we will report further as the case unfolds.