Mark Hurd appealed a judge’s decision that Hewlett-Packard Co. must release most of a letter about the ex-chairman’s involvement with contractor Jodie Fisher, the relationship that led to his departure from the company.
Delaware Chancery Court Judge Donald Parsons Jr. on March 17 ordered that a redacted, public version of the letter be filed within 10 days, and the pending appeal delayed that release. Parsons on March 28 modified his earlier order, saying that Hewlett-Packard should release the letter on the 10th day following the filing of a notice of appeal unless he or the Delaware Supreme Court issues a stay.
The state high court today ordered Hurd’s lawyers to submit their opening brief on the appeal by May 19. It will consider the case later, according to an electronic court filing.
The letter, which had been sent by lawyer Gloria Allred on Fisher’s behalf, is part of a case filed by HP shareholder Ernesto Espinoza seeking access to company books and records. The letter contains accusations of sexual harassment and details of Hurd’s alleged advances toward Fisher and her rejection of them, according to Parsons’s ruling.
Hurd, now co-president of software maker Oracle Corp. (ORCL), resigned from Palo Alto, California-based HP in August after a company investigation determined he violated its standards of business conduct. HP said it didn’t find that Hurd had violated the company’s sexual-harassment policy.
Hurd contends the letter, sent by Allred in an attempt to arrange private mediation with Fisher, is personal. It includes allegations that Hurd misused corporate funds to “wine and dine Fisher” and leaked potential non-public information about the company to her, Parsons said in his ruling.
Espinoza, the plaintiff, is seeking access to the letter and an internal report prepared for the HP board by lawyers at Covington & Burling LLP as part of his investigation into possible waste by directors. Parsons on March 25 denied Espinoza access to the report.
The board wrongly granted Hurd a severance package valued at as much as $40 million rather than terminate him for cause without any money, lawyers for Espinoza said in court papers.
“We have no comment” on the latest appeal, said Hewlett- Packard spokeswoman Mylene Mangalindan in an e-mailed message today.
The Chancery case is Espinoza v. Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ), CA6000, Delaware Chancery Court (Wilmington). The appeal is Hurd v. Spinoza, 167, 2001, Delaware Supreme Court (Dover).
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