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Poaching Case Ruling

Poaching Case Ruling

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Published by Arik Hesseldahl

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Published by: Arik Hesseldahl on Apr 19, 2012
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Case No.: 11-CV-02509-LHKORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS’ JOINT MOTION TO DISMISS; DENYINGLUCASFILM’S MOTION TO DISMISS
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   F  o  r   t   h  e   N  o  r   t   h  e  r  n   D   i  s   t  r   i  c   t  o   f   C  a   l   i   f  o  r  n   i  a
 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTNORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIASAN JOSE DIVISIONIN RE: HIGH-TECH EMPLOYEEANTITRUST LITIGATIONMaster Docket No. 11-CV-02509-LHK
ORDER GRANTING IN PART ANDDENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS’JOINT MOTION TO DISMISS;DENYING LUCASFILM LTD.’SMOTION TO DISMISS
THIS DOCUMENT RELATES TO:
ALL ACTIONS
 Before the Court are Defendants’ Joint Motion to Dismiss the Consolidated AmendedComplaint (“Joint Mot.”), ECF No. 79, and Defendant Lucasfilm Ltd.’s Motion to Dismiss(“Lucasfilm Mot.”), ECF No. 83. The Court held a hearing on the motions on January 26, 2012.Having considered the parties’ submissions, arguments, and the relevant law, the Court GRANTSIN PART and DENIES IN PART Defendants’ joint motion to dismiss, and DENIES Lucasfilm’smotion to dismiss.
I.
 
BACKGROUND
This is a consolidated class action brought by employees alleging antitrust claims againsttheir employers, all of whom are high-tech companies with a principal place of business in the SanFrancisco-Silicon Valley area of California. Plaintiffs challenge an alleged conspiracy amongDefendants to fix and suppress employee compensation and to restrict employee mobility.
Case5:11-cv-02509-LHK Document119 Filed04/18/12 Page1 of 29
 
 
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Case No.: 11-CV-02509-LHKORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS’ JOINT MOTION TO DISMISS; DENYINGLUCASFILM’S MOTION TO DISMISS
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   F  o  r   t   h  e   N  o  r   t   h  e  r  n   D   i  s   t  r   i  c   t  o   f   C  a   l   i   f  o  r  n   i  a
The Court recites the factual allegations as pled in the Consolidated Amended Complaint(“CAC”), ECF No. 65, and as indicated in judicially noticed documents. The Court then recountsthe procedural background.
A.
 
Factual Background
Unless otherwise noted, the following allegations are taken from the CAC and presumed tobe true for purposes of ruling on Defendants’ motions to dismiss.
See Marder v. Lopez
, 450 F.3d445, 447 n.1 (9th Cir. 2006). The Court also takes judicial notice of documents from a relatedDepartment of Justice (“DOJ”) investigation and civil lawsuit that are referenced in the CAC orattached as exhibits to the Declaration of Christina J. Brown (“Brown Decl.”), ECF No. 79-1, andthe Declaration of Dean M. Harvey (Harvey Decl.”), ECF No. 93. A court “may take notice of proceedings in other courts, both within and without the federal judicial system, if thoseproceedings have a direct relation to matters at issue.”
United States ex rel. Robinson RancheriaCitizens Council v. Borneo, Inc.
, 971 F.2d 244, 248 (9th Cir. 1992). A court may also take judicialnotice of the existence of matters of public record, such as a prior order or decision, but not thetruth of the facts cited therein.
See Lee v. City of L.A.
, 250 F.3d 668, 689-90 (9th Cir. 2001). TheCourt may consider documents referenced in, but not attached to a complaint without converting amotion to dismiss into one seeking summary judgment.
See Swartz v. KPMG LLP
, 476 F.3d 756,763 (9th Cir. 2007).
1.
 
The Parties
Defendants include the following high-tech companies with principal places of businesslocated in the following cities in California: Adobe Systems Inc. (“Adobe”), San Jose; Apple Inc.(“Apple”), Cupertino; Google Inc. (“Google”), Mountain View; Intel Corp. (“Intel”), Santa Clara;Intuit Inc. (“Intuit”), Santa Clara; Lucasfilm Ltd. (“Lucasfilm”), San Francisco; and Pixar,Emeryville. CAC
 
 ¶¶ 16-20.Plaintiffs Michael Devine, Mark Fichtner, Siddharth Hariharan, Brandon Marshall, andDaniel Stover (collectively “Named Plaintiffs”), all worked as software engineers for some of theDefendants.
 Id 
. ¶¶ 21-27. Mr. Devine worked for Adobe in the State of Washington from October
Case5:11-cv-02509-LHK Document119 Filed04/18/12 Page2 of 29
 
 
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Case No.: 11-CV-02509-LHKORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS’ JOINT MOTION TO DISMISS; DENYINGLUCASFILM’S MOTION TO DISMISS
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   U  n   i   t  e   d   S   t  a   t  e  s   D   i  s   t  r   i  c   t   C  o  u  r   t
   F  o  r   t   h  e   N  o  r   t   h  e  r  n   D   i  s   t  r   i  c   t  o   f   C  a   l   i   f  o  r  n   i  a
2006, through July 7, 2008.
 Id.
¶ 16. Mr. Fichtner worked for Intel in Arizona from May 2008through May 2011.
 Id.
 ¶ 17. Mr. Hariharan worked for Lucasfilm in California from January 8,2007, through August 15, 2008.
 Id.
 ¶ 18. Mr. Marshall worked for Adobe in California from July2006 through December 2006.
 Id.
 ¶ 19. Finally, Mr. Stover worked for Intuit in California fromJuly 2006 through December 2010.
 Id.
 ¶ 20.Named Plaintiffs purport to represent the following nationwide class of similarly situatedindividuals:All natural persons employed by Defendants in the United States on a salaried basisduring the period from January 1, 2005 through January 1, 2010 (the “ClassPeriod”). Excluded from the Class are: retail employees; corporate officers,members of the boards of directors, and senior executives of Defendants whoentered into the illicit agreements alleged herein; and any and all judges and justices, and chambersstaff, assigned to hear or adjudicate any aspect of thislitigation.
 Id.
 ¶ 30.
2.
 
DOJ Investigation
Many of the factual allegations in the CAC come directly from two civil complaints filedby the DOJ in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (the “D.C. DistrictCourt”).
See
Joint Mot. 5-6. Plaintiffs reference these documents in the CAC, and bothDefendants and Plaintiffs have attached documents from the DOJ lawsuit to their briefing.
See
Harvey Decl. Exs. A-B; Brown Decl. Exs. A-F.From 2009 through 2010, the Antitrust Division of the DOJ conducted an investigation intoDefendants’ employment and recruitment practices. CAC
 
 ¶¶ 3, 111. After receiving documentsproduced by Defendants and interviewing witnesses, the DOJ concluded that Defendants reached“facially anticompetitive” agreements that “eliminated a significant form of competition . . . to thedetriment of the affected employees who were likely deprived of competitively importantinformation and access to better job opportunities.DOJ Complaint against Adobe, et al. (“DOJAdobe Compl.”), Harvey Decl. Ex. A, at ¶¶ 2, 14; DOJ Complaint against Lucasfilm (“DOJLucasfilm Compl.”), Harvey Decl. Ex. D, at ¶¶ 2, 15, 22; CAC
 
 ¶ 112. The DOJ also determinedthat the agreements “were not ancillary to any legitimate collaboration,” “were much broader than
Case5:11-cv-02509-LHK Document119 Filed04/18/12 Page3 of 29

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