Facebook Inc. (FB:US) Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg will seek to block a subpoena requiring her to give a deposition in a lawsuit alleging that seven technology companies broke antitrust laws by agreeing not to recruit from one another.
A hearing to resolve Sandberg’s opposition to the subpoena will be conducted by U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal, U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh in San Jose, California, said in court today. On April 1 Koh said lawyers for employees suing the companies could schedule a deposition of Sandberg around April 23.
“We’ve been working out cooperatively a schedule that works for Ms. Sandberg and her counsel,” Kelly Dermody, a lawyer for the employees, told Koh today. A lawyer for Sandberg wasn’t in court today.
Defendants in the 2011 case include Google Inc., (GOOG:US) where Sandberg was formerly an executive, Apple Inc. (AAPL:US), Intuit Inc. (INTU:US), Intel Corp. (INTC:US), Adobe Systems Inc., Walt Disney Co. (DIS:US)’s Pixar animation unit and Lucasfilm Ltd. Neither Facebook nor Sandberg, a former Google executive, is a defendant. Plaintiffs’ lawyers contend senior officers at the companies personally entered into non-solicitation agreements to eliminate competition.
Lawyers for the employees said a March 22 deposition of Google Chief Executive Officer Larry Page and a March 25 deposition of Intuit executive Alex Lintner confirmed Sandberg’s “relevance” to the anitrust case.
“Google believes that Ms. Sandberg is unlikely to offer any testimony that would be admissible or lead to admissible evidence,” lawyers said in a March 29 court filing.
The companies last week won an order from Koh blocking potentially thousands of employees, from engineers to sous chefs, from proceeding as a group over claims that their incomes were held down by the companies’ agreements not to recruit one another’s workers.
The judge ruled that the plaintiffs can try again to satisfy the requirements for class certification using evidence they have recently obtained from more than 50 depositions of high-ranking employees at the companies and more than 10,000 documents turned over by the defendants.
Sandberg was hired as COO of Facebook in 2008 and appointed as the company’s first female director in June 2012. She is also a director of Walt Disney.
Before joining Facebook, Sandberg was vice president of global online sales and operations at Google.
Sarah Feinberg, a spokeswoman for Menlo Park, California- based Facebook, has declined to comment on a Sandberg deposition. Dermody declined after to court today to discuss the Sandberg subpoena.
The San Jose case is In Re High-Tech Employee Antitrust Litigation, 11-cv-02509, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose). A previous case is U.S. v. Adobe Systems, 10-cv-01629, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).
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