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Class representative in Apple 'anti-poaching' suit wants bigger cut of $415M payout

Anti-poaching suit Class Representative Michael Devine. | Source: The New York Times

The class representative in a California anti-trust lawsuit regarding alleged anti-poaching measures employed by Apple, Google and other Silicon Valley tech companies, is seeking a larger-than-normal chunk of a proposed $415 million payout for his work in securing more lucrative settlement terms.

Michael Devine, a former Adobe Systems engineer, is requesting U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh modify terms of a proposed $415 million settlement reached yesterday by Apple, Google, Adobe and Intel, claiming he played a pivotal role in securing a larger reward for fellow plaintiffs.

Stipulated in a joinder filed in court on Friday, Devine is asking for up to $160,000 for his role in the settlement. The sum is, as noted by The Wall Street Journal, twice the amount being sought by the suit's four other named plaintiffs. The class' approximately 64,000 employees will receive about $5,000 each.

"I'm glad that I stood up for the class and that I was able to have such a substantial impact on the outcome," Devine said. "I took my responsibilities seriously and I showed that class representatives can make a real difference."

Devine was the lone voice of dissent in a prior $324.5 million settlement bid reached last April, and called the offer "grossly inadequate" in a letter of objection filed with the court. The class representative made sure his remonstration attained maximum public exposure by posting the document online before it was made available through proper court channels and participating in an interview with The New York Times.

Judge Koh agreed with Devine and rejected the initial offer, saying Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe should "pay their fare share" as compared to codefendants that settled earlier on in the lawsuit. In 2013, Intuit, Pixar, and Lucasfilm settled out of court for $20 million.

Citing the successful opposition that resulted in an approximately 28-percent premium over the original settlement terms — and a heightened risk of not finding future employment because of it — Devine requests a larger reward commensurate of his service.

The lawsuit alleges Apple and other Silicon Valley heavyweights employed anti-poaching tactics between 2005 and 2009, effectively suppressing wages by limiting job mobility.

Judge Koh has yet to approve the $415 million settlement, $81 million of which is earmarked for attorneys' fees.