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Garrison v. Oracle Corp.

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division

April 22, 2015

GREG GARRISON, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,


LUCY H. KOH, District Judge.

Plaintiff Greg Garrison ("Plaintiff") brings this putative class action against Defendant Oracle Corporation ("Oracle") for alleged violations of federal and California antitrust laws. ECF No. 1 ("Compl.").[1] Before the Court is Oracle's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. ECF No. 17. Having considered the parties' submissions, the relevant law, and the record in this case, the Court hereby GRANTS in part and DENIES in part Oracle's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings with leave to amend. The case management conference scheduled for April 23, 2015, at 1:30 p.m. remains as set.


A. Factual Background

1. The Parties

Plaintiff is a former employee of Oracle. Compl. ¶ 14. Plaintiff worked for Oracle as a senior account manager from approximately December 2008 to June 2009. Id. ¶¶ 14, 23. In that capacity, Plaintiff managed regional sales of Oracle's Crystal Ball software, a spreadsheet-based software used for predictive modeling, forecasting, simulation, and optimization across various business industries. Id. ¶ 23.

Oracle, a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Redwood Shores, California, is a multinational computer technology corporation. Compl. ¶¶ 15-16. The world's second-largest software producer by revenue, Oracle specializes in developing and marketing computer hardware systems and enterprise software products, including its own brands of database management systems. Id. ¶ 16.

2. In re High-Tech Employee Antitrust Litigation

Plaintiff alleges here that Oracle conspired with Google Inc. ("Google") to enter into a "Restricted Hiring Agreement" (the "Agreement"). Compl. ¶ 19. There appears to be significant factual overlap between Plaintiff's allegations and the related action In re High-Tech Employee Antitrust Litigation (" High-Tech "), No. 11-02509. See id. ¶¶ 25-27 (discussing the alleged High-Tech conspiracy). As the factual and procedural history of High-Tech, as well as the U.S. Department of Justice's ("DOJ") investigations and complaints, are relevant to this action, the Court briefly summarizes the background of that litigation below.

From 2009 to 2010, DOJ's Antitrust Division investigated the employment and recruitment practices of various Silicon Valley technology companies, including Adobe Systems, Inc. ("Adobe"), Apple Inc. ("Apple"), Intel Corp. ("Intel"), Intuit Inc. ("Intuit"), and Google. See In re High-Tech Emp. Litig., 856 F.Supp.2d 1103, 1109 (N.D. Cal. 2012). In September 2010, DOJ filed civil complaints against the above-mentioned technology companies, in addition to Pixar and Lucasfilm Ltd. ("Lucasfilm"). Id. DOJ filed its complaint against Adobe, Apple, Google, Intel, Intuit, and Pixar on September 24, 2010. Id. On December 21, 2010, DOJ filed another complaint against Pixar and Lucasfilm. See No. 11-02509, ECF No. 65 ¶ 114. All of the technology company defendants stipulated to proposed final judgments in which they agreed that DOJ's complaints had stated claims under federal antitrust law and agreed to be "enjoined from attempting to enter into, maintaining or enforcing any agreement with any other person or in any way refrain from... soliciting, cold calling, recruiting, or otherwise competing for employees of the other person." High-Tech, 856 F.Supp.2d at 1109-10. The D.C. District Court entered the stipulated proposed final judgments on March 17, 2011, and June 2, 2011, respectively. Id. at 1110.

The High-Tech plaintiffs filed five separate state court actions between May and July 2011. Following removal, transfer to San Jose to the undersigned judge, and consolidation, the High-Tech plaintiffs filed a consolidated amended complaint on September 13, 2011. 856 F.Supp.2d at 1112-13. In their complaint, the High-Tech plaintiffs alleged antitrust claims against their employers, claiming that the defendants had conspired "to fix and suppress employee compensation and to restrict employee mobility." Id. at 1108. More specifically, the High-Tech plaintiffs alleged a conspiracy comprised of "an interconnected web of express bilateral agreements." Id. at 1110. One such agreement, the "Do Not Cold Call" agreement involved one company placing the names of another company's employees on a "Do Not Cold Call" list and instructing its recruiters not to cold call the employees of the other company. Id. In addition to the "Do Not Cold Call" agreements, the High-Tech plaintiffs also alleged that Pixar and Lucasfilm entered into express, written agreements (1) not to cold call each other's employees, (2) to notify the other company whenever making an offer to an employee of the other company, and (3) not to engage in "bidding wars." Id. at 1111.

On May 17, 2013, the High-Tech plaintiffs publicly filed a number of documents in support of their supplemental motion for class certification. No. 11-02509, ECF Nos. 418, 428. One of those documents was an internal Google memo describing Google's hiring protocols and practices as of "1.7.2008." No. 11-02509, ECF No. 428-10 at GOOG-HIGH-TECH-00059839. At one point, the Google memo refers to certain companies on the "Restricted Hiring' list, " including Microsoft, Novell, Sun Microsystems, and, as relevant here, Oracle. Id.

3. Instant Lawsuit

As indicated above, Plaintiff alleges here that starting in May 2007, Oracle and Google entered into the Agreement. Compl. ¶ 19. Pursuant to the Agreement, Oracle, Google, and other technology companies agreed to the following:

1) Not to pursue manager level and above candidates for Product, Sales, or [General and Administrative] roles-even if they have applied to [any of the other companies who are parties to the Restricted Hiring Agreement];
2) However, there are no restrictions to our recruiting from these companies at individual contributor levels for PSG&A; [and]
3) Additionally, there are no restrictions at any level for engineering candidates.

Id. (second and third alterations in original). According to Plaintiff, Oracle entered into the Agreement with "the intent and effect of fixing the compensation of the employees of participating companies at artificially low levels." Id. ¶ 31; see also id. ¶ 8 ("The intended and actual effect of the Restricted Hiring Agreement was to fix and suppress employee compensation, and to impose unlawful restrictions on employee mobility."). Other than the senior executives who "actively managed and enforced" the Agreement, "Oracle employees were not apprised and did not consent to this restriction on their mobility of employment." Id. ¶¶ 20-22. Accordingly, Plaintiff seeks to represent the following class of Oracle employees in this action:

All persons who worked at any time from May 10, 2007 to the present for Oracle in the United States in any manager level or above positions for Product, Sales, or General and Administrative roles, excluding engineers.

Id. ¶ 34.

B. Procedural History

In light of the relationship between the instant case and High-Tech, the Court briefly summarizes the relevant procedural history in ...

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