Pao Seeks to Have Kleiner Bid for $1 Million in Costs TossedJoel Rosenblatt and Robert Burnson
Former Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers junior partner Ellen Pao urged a court to reject the venture capital firm’s bid for almost $1 million in court costs after it defeated her gender-bias claims at trial.
The firm had offered to drop the request if Pao agreed not to appeal. Pao’s attorney, Therese Lawless, hasn’t said whether Pao will or won’t. She has until June 8 to file an appeal.
Kleiner Perkins filed its $1 million reimbursement request a month after a jury rejected Pao’s claims of discrimination and retaliation and her demand for $16 million in damages.
Kleiner Perkins’ costs are “improper under the law and, in any event, are grossly excessive and unreasonable,” Pao’s lawyers said in a filing Friday in San Francisco state court.
Pao cited a ruling by the California Supreme Court this week that people who file discrimination suits against their employers don’t have to pay court costs unless the cases are frivolous.
Alec Segarich, a San Francisco employment lawyer, said an exception to that rule is when the suing worker rejects a settlement offer before trial, as Pao did, and then loses. In that case, she may be liable for the employer’s costs after the settlement offer, Segarich said.
Pao said in Friday’s filing that Kleiner’s pretrial offer to settle the case for $964,502 -- a fraction of the damages she sought -- was not a ’’good faith’’ effort to resolve the dispute.
Pao claimed that during her seven years at Kleiner, she was subjected to a sexually charged atmosphere, preyed on by male colleagues and ultimately denied a promotion and fired because of her gender.
Kleiner said she didn’t succeed because she was hard to get along with, had no experience as an entrepreneur and lacked expertise in strategic markets for investments.
Pao, the interim chief executive officer of Reddit Inc., said after the verdict that she was ready to move on.
Christina Lee, a spokeswoman for Kleiner, declined to comment on Pao’s filing and referred to the company’s earlier comment that Kleiner had offered to waive all legal costs if Pao ended the litigation.
Heather Wilson, a spokeswoman for Pao, dismissed that offer and said there will be a court hearing on the matter June 18.
“Since Kleiner is not entitled to any costs, its offer was really an offer that had no value,” Wilson said Friday in an e-mail.
The case is Pao v. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers LLC, CGC-12-520719, California Superior Court (San Francisco).