The Department of Justice has been running a lawsuit against some of Silicon Valley’s most famous faces since 2009. The suit alleges that a number of high-powered firms agreed not to recruit technical talent from one another, which may reduce the turnover ratio of engineering departments but would also be a highly illegal activity. At the heart of the matter were Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), each of which supposedly set up a network of do-not-call lists with other heavyweights (and one another).
The feds started settling the initial case nearly three years ago, but that wasn’t the end of the story. With the DoJ’s claims out of the way, a class-action lawsuit took shape. This one’s not about anticompetitive strategy, but about unfairly limiting the earnings power of about 100,000 technical staffers. And that lawsuit is still rolling since judge Lucy Koh (yes, the honorable Lucy Koh of last summer’s blockbuster, Apple’s $1 billion victory over Samsung) denied a call for dismissal in April.
Well, The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) has apparently had enough of this affair. In a weekend court filing, Judge Koh said The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS)’s Lucasfilm and Pixar units have settled their differences with unhappy employees. It’s time for The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS)’s legal team to don their swimsuits and take a vacation, because for them, this long-running saga is finally over.
Well, almost — Koh expects a joint settlement status report by Friday, and she gives the lawyers another week after that to file five-page briefs on how this settlement might affect the remaining defendants. Until then (or perhaps not even then), we won’t have any detail on what the settlements entailed. But attorney Joseph Saveri, who represented the disgruntled employees, seems to like the outcome, so it probably wasn’t cheap for The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS).
The next hearing in the ongoing case is set for Aug. 8, giving the defendants and plaintiffs some time to work out a deal before the next court appearance.
It’s hard to say whether or not the settlement affected The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS)’s share price. The stock dropped 1.5% on Monday, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) was rather flat, but The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) had other news competing for shareholders’ attention that day. In particular, digital video site Hulu.com, of which the House of Mouse is a co-owner, was on the auction block last week. But Hulu’s triumvirate of owners decided to keep the service in house and pump more capital into it instead.