In the latest news regarding the ongoing trade secrets dispute between realtor.com® operator Move, Inc. and Zillow, in pre-trial rulings, a Seattle judge has reduced the potential damages against Zillow from $2 billion to $1.6 or $1.7 billion, according to online reports citing an analyst closely following the case.
The lengthy hearing has been ongoing since 2014 when Move, Inc., filed a claim that former Move execs Curt Beardsley and Errol Samuelson, stole trade secrets and destroyed documents when they left the company to join Zillow.
This week it was reported that Seattle Superior Court Judge Sean P. O’Donnell included in the rulings the dismissal of some claims related to Zillow’s acquisition of Trulia for $384 million. However, the judge’s order also allows Move to continue to pursue its $803 million in potential damages for “unjust enrichment” in relation to the Trulia acquisition, according to reports attributed to a litigation analyst with Susquehanna Financial Group.
Move issued the following statement in regard to the rulings:
“Seeking to have the claims of Move and the National Association of Realtors dismissed before trial, Zillow desperately filed an unprecedented number of motions for summary judgment – more than 20 motions totaling more than 10,000 pages of argument and evidence. The massive effort must have cost Zillow millions. It has failed. With most of Zillow’s motions having been ruled on, NAR and Move are very pleased that the core of our claims remain intact, and that the mountain of evidence supporting allegations of trade secret misappropriation, fiduciary breaches, lying, and broad evidence destruction are moving forward. NAR and Move look forward to the jury trial, beginning June 6, with an adverse jury instruction as the Court in Seattle has already found to be appropriate because of evidence destruction in the case, and to the head-on impact this case will have on Zillow.”
Zillow issued the following statement on the rulings:
“We have consistently said News Corp’s allegations were baseless, and today’s rulings give us further confidence as we head to trial. We think a jury will see this case for what it’s really about: News Corp’s attempt to win in the courts a battle it is losing in the field of competition. We look forward to the judge’s additional rulings on summary judgments, and to addressing these allegations head-on in the trial.”
The case is set to go to trial Monday in Washington state court.
Last month, a Seattle judge denied Move Inc.’s motion for sanctions against Zillow trade theft suit it filed against its rival back in 2014. However, the judge will sanction Zillow exec Beardsley by issuing an “adverse instruction” to jurors, or informing them that evidence is missing or has been destroyed.
The judge’s adverse instructions leave it to jurors to decide whether the evidence would have helped the plaintiffs or likewise hurt the defendants.
Stay tuned to RISMedia for ongoing coverage.