Judge Harold Kahn has tentatively ordered Ellen Pao to pay $275,996.63 back to Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers for costs incurred during a high-profile sexual discrimination case earlier this year.
Pao lost on all counts of her case against KPCB, which claimed she was not properly promoted within the VC firm on the basis of her gender. The jury found that her gender was not the reason Pao was not promoted within the organization.
This is a reduced amount from the $973,000 in court fees KPCB hoped to recover from Pao. The majority of those fees, $$864,680, went toward expert witnesses. The interim CEO of Reddit and her attorneys asked Judge Kahn to dismiss the fees KCPB sought because they were “grossly excessive and unreasonable.”
Pao argued that these fees were made in bad faith and that, according to a recent California Supreme Court ruling, they could not be recovered because they were made in bad faith.
Kahn did not think the fees were made in bad faith but agreed that the amount should be something more reasonable.
“There is no doubt that KPCB has “vastly” greater economic resources than Ms. Pao. Nor is there any doubt that Ms. Pao is not indigent. While both her current employment and the likely continuing remuneration in the form of carried interests from her former employment at KPCB show that Ms. Pao has significant economic resources, it is also undoubtedly true that the $864,680.25 that KPCB seeks in expert fees is a material amount in the context of Ms. Pao’s resources. On the other hand, this amount is not a material amount in the context of KPCB’s resources,” Judge Kahn wrote.
“This tentative ruling recognizes that our settlement offer was reasonable and made in good faith,” Kleiner Perkins partner Christina Lee said in a statement. “It also recognizes the cost rules still apply when a plaintiff refuses a reasonable settlement offer and forces the parties to go through an expensive trial.”
Pao is now repealing the court case but has offered to drop it if KPCB agrees to cover the $2.7 million Pao incurred in court fees during the original trial.
This is a tentative order and the amount could change. Both Pao and KCPB head to the San Francisco Superior Court tomorrow to figure out who pays what and how much.
Pao’s lawyers could not be reached for comment at this time.