Earlier today, the Wall Street Journal ran a story purporting to be the latest development in the Techtopus wage-theft lawsuit.
Recall that last Friday, Pando broke the news about Judge Lucy Koh’s surprising ruling tossing out the $324 million settlement agreed upon between most of the class plaintiffs and the remaining defendants who conspired to suppress their workers’ wages: Apple, Adobe, Google and Intel.
One of the plaintiffs, former Adobe employee Michael Devine, had broken away from the suit this past spring over what he (and some others backing him) argued was an unreasonably low and unfair settlement figure.
According to today’s Journal, there was a new “development” summed up in the article’s headline: “Rebel Engineer is Ready To Rejoin Silicon Valley Wage Case.”
The story’s lede changed the “development” slightly to say that Devine’s lawyer said his client was now ready to rejoin with the rest of the class plaintiffs:
“The former Silicon Valley engineer who helped derail a proposed settlement in a closely watched lawsuit over lost wages is ready to work with other plaintiffs to refashion a better deal, his attorney said.”
The problem is that nothing else in the Journal story after the lede supported the idea that this was a new development. The only quote they use to support the headline or lede was from a court hearing nearly two months ago, in which Devine’s lawyer told the court:
“If we’re able to come back with a substantially improved, or even a modestly improved settlement, the court will have a different calculus in front of it and probably a settlement that all the class members support.”
Confused by one of the great business newspaper’s inability to fashion a coherent story, I did the most obvious thing a journalist would do and reached out to the “rebel engineer” himself for comment.
So, is Devine — whose rift with his fellow plaintiffs allowed Judge Koh to force the parties back to the bargaining table, and might earn all the class plaintiffs a lot more well-deserved money — really “ready to rejoin” the plaintiffs?
I asked; Devine answered a short while later. Here’s his reply in full:
“Rejoin? I never left! The Plaintiffs in this case are the 64,466 members of the class. I have consistently, and will continue to faithfully represent their interests. If anything, it is original class counsel who, as a consequence of Judge Koh’s ruling, we now welcome back to the pursuit of a fair outcome.
“Regarding the $380M number mentioned, that number should not be misconstrued to be within the range of reasonableness. It’s used in a reductio ad absurdum argument to show that the $324M number could not possibly be fair. To talk about $380M is to disregard the bulk of the ruling.”
There, that wasn’t so hard was it?
(Incidentally, Devine is right when he writes ‘to talk about $380M is to disregard the bulk of the ruling.’ As I wrote in my brief scoop last Friday, Koh makes an unusually forceful and strong case against Apple and Google as wage-theft conspirators caught in flagrante delicto given all the email and testimonial evidence. If I were Apple and Google’s legal team reading Judge Koh’s ruling, I’d be soiling my JCrews.)