In Final Verdict, Jury Rules Against Pao On All Four Claims In Ellen Pao Vs. Kleiner Perkins

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Updated: After several days of deliberations, a San Francisco Superior Court jury has come to a conclusion in Ellen Pao Vs. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the gender discrimination trial that began with a lawsuit filed in May 2012 and culminated this past month in a closely watched five-week-long courtroom trial.

The jury has ruled “no” on all four claims Pao leveled against Kleiner Perkins. This is a unequivocal finding in favor of Kleiner Perkins.

Just as a refresher, since there have been a lot of details bandied about these past few weeks, Pao’s complaint boiled down to four claims. Here they are in question form, along with the jury’s answers on them:

  • Was Ellen Pao’s gender a substantial motivating reason for Kleiner Perkins’ not promoting her to the levels of senior partner as well as general partner? [This is the gender discrimination element to the case.] Jury answer: NO
  • Were Pao’s conversations in December 2011 and/or her January 4th 2012 memo to John Doerr, in which she complained about the alleged gender discrimination she encountered at the firm, a substantial motivating reason for her not being promoted to senior partner and general partner? [This is the retaliation part of the case.] Jury answer: No
  • Did Kleiner Perkins fail to take all reasonable steps to prevent gender discrimination against Ellen Pao? Jury answer: An automatic NO, since it could only be answered if jurors answered yes to question 1 — after all, if there were no gender discrimination, the question would be moot.
  • Were Pao’s conversations in December 2011 and/or her January 4th 2012 memo and/or her filing of this lawsuit a substantial motivating reason for Kleiner Perkins’ decision to terminate Pao’s employment in October 2012? [This is also under retaliation.] Jury Answer: NO

You can see the official verdict form as it was filled out by the jury here.

Pao’s legal team was asking for approximately $16 million in lost income, and stood to receive an additional $144 million in punitive damages. Now that Pao has lost, she must pay part of Kleiner’s trial bills, including its expert witness fees.

A false alarm

This final verdict came at approximately 4:30pm Pacific Time, after one major false alarm. The press was initially called to the courthouse for a 2:00pm Pacific Time verdict reading, which was at first also “No” on all four claims. But when the judge individually asked for each of the juror’s rulings verbally, he found that the fourth claim, on whether Pao’s termination from Kleiner Perkins was an act of retaliation for filing the lawsuit, had reached only an 8-4 ruling. Each claim had to reach a consensus from at least 9 jurors.

It seemed at first that this was a simple math mistake. But it turns out that one of the jurors had changed his decision between the deliberations and the verdict reading, without telling the others (there is buzz that several jurors turned their heads in surprise upon hearing a “yes” from one of the male jurors on the fourth claim, though we didn’t see that from our vantage point.) The jury was then escorted out of the courtroom to continue deliberations, and the audience was ordered back into the hallway.

After nearly two hours of additional deliberations, the jury returned to the courtroom with a final verdict of “No” on the fourth claim. The first two claims had a jury consensus of 10 to 2, and the fourth claim was at 9 to 3 (the third claim was not eligible for a vote, since the consensus on claim one was no.)

Statements from Kleiner and Pao

Kleiner Perkins has released the following statement on the verdict:

“Today’s verdict reaffirms that Ellen Pao’s claims have no legal merit. We are grateful to the jury for its careful examination of the facts. There is no question gender diversity in the workplace is an important issue. KPCB remains committed to supporting women in venture capital and technology both inside our firm and within our industry.”

Ellen Pao also held a short press conference in which she read a statement. You can read about that, and see video of her remarks, here.

You can read all of TechCrunch’s posts about the Pao Vs. Kleiner trial here, or by clicking the banner below.

Colleen Taylor March 27, 20156:07 pm

And that’s all — we’ve left the courthouse, which has been shut for the day. Thanks for watching, and we’ll have more updates and analysis in the days ahead.

Colleen Taylor March 27, 20155:18 pm

Only two jurors have agreed to speak to the press — one who voted no on all claims, and one who voted yes on all four claims. We’re in a room at the Courthouse as these two jurors tell the press why they voted the ways that they did.

Alexia Tsotsis March 27, 20154:55 pm

We’re ushered to another room in the court to hear Kleiner’s statement.

Alexia Tsotsis March 27, 20154:51 pm

KPCB’s lawyer Lynn Hermle calls it “a long difficult trial.” The lawyers, and peanut gallery are told to leave the room. One juror elects to take the back door. 

Alexia Tsotsis March 27, 20154:49 pm

Juror #2: “I think we had a lot of issues that we were very close on. It was very difficult to split on those situations. We did the best we could as twelve total strangers with different perspectives.”

Alexia Tsotsis March 27, 20154:48 pm

Juror #6 calls the trial decision “One of the post difficult decisions he’s ever made” and said he made the decision based on the “evidence presented.”

Alexia Tsotsis March 27, 20154:42 pm

The jurors are free to leave. Ellen Pao is giving a statement outside. A juror thanks Judge Kahn for making this as “pleasant as you can for $3.50 a day.”

Alexia Tsotsis March 27, 20154:40 pm

Judge Kahn is talking to the jury about speaking to press. If they don’t want to speak to press, they don’t have to. They are now free to speak to anyone about the case. 

Alexia Tsotsis March 27, 20154:37 pm

The case against KPCB is dismissed on all claims. Again.

Alexia Tsotsis March 27, 20154:36 pm

Juror 12, on the fourth claim: No.

Alexia Tsotsis March 27, 20154:36 pm

Juror 11, on the fourth claim: Yes. 

Alexia Tsotsis March 27, 20154:35 pm

Juror 10, on the fourth claim: No.

Alexia Tsotsis March 27, 20154:35 pm

Juror 9, on the fourth claim: No.

Alexia Tsotsis March 27, 20154:35 pm

Juror 8, on the fourth claim: No.

Alexia Tsotsis March 27, 20154:34 pm

Juror 7, on the fourth claim: No.

Alexia Tsotsis March 27, 20154:34 pm

Juror 6, on the fourth claim: No.

Alexia Tsotsis March 27, 20154:34 pm

Juror 5, on the fourth claim: Yes. 

Alexia Tsotsis March 27, 20154:34 pm

Juror 4, on the fourth claim: No.

Alexia Tsotsis March 27, 20154:33 pm

Juror 3, on the fourth claim: No.

Alexia Tsotsis March 27, 20154:33 pm

Juror 2, on the fourth claim: Yes. 

Alexia Tsotsis March 27, 20154:33 pm

Juror 1, on the fourth claim: No.

Alexia Tsotsis March 27, 20154:30 pm

Jury files in. Hopefully, the last time they have to see each other. 

Colleen Taylor March 27, 20154:29 pm

Judge is back in and wearing his robe again. He had taken it off while answering the jury question. We are back in business. Jury hasn’t filed in yet.

Alexia Tsotsis March 27, 20154:28 pm

“Someone has lost a cellphone. Black with burgundy trim.” It’s announced in court. The woman who lost it rushes outside.

Colleen Taylor March 27, 20154:23 pm

We have a verdict (again)! being summoned back into room now.

Alexia Tsotsis March 27, 20154:09 pm

You could not have written a more dramatic climax here, with the entire courtroom in limbo as the jury tries to sway one person. There are 20 minutes left on time.

Alexia Tsotsis March 27, 20154:03 pm

And now we have to leave again.

Colleen Taylor March 27, 20154:03 pm

No verdict yet, this is a jury question. They’re asking for clarification on the fourth count, the retaliation question.

Alexia Tsotsis March 27, 20154:01 pm

And we’re back in. 

Alexia Tsotsis March 27, 20153:54 pm

https://twitter.com/SFSuperiorCourt/status/581589962761445376 Apparently the jury has a question, according to the SF Superior Court’s Twitter account. 

Alexia Tsotsis March 27, 20153:51 pm

Still waiting. The guy who has been sleeping throughout the entire trial is still sleeping as we wait. Here is a drawing of him by courtroom artist Vicki Behringer (Courtroomartist.com).

Alexia Tsotsis March 27, 20153:45 pm

Fun fact, the third claim is directly tied to claim #1, so it wasn’t ruled on at all. 

Colleen Taylor March 27, 20153:22 pm

We could be here for a while. On the rest of the claims, the jury had a 10:2 ratio. On the fourth claim, it was 8:4. That means they need to bring one person over to the “no” side, or five people over to the “yes” side.

Alexia Tsotsis March 27, 20153:14 pm

Looking for more court-related reading while you wait? Here is a post by a lawyer about why the jury members aren’t Googling this (or any) case http://techcrunch.com/2015/03/27/thou-shalt-not-google/

Colleen Taylor March 27, 20153:11 pm

We are all still waiting here in the hallway! FYI, the court has typically adjourned at 4:30 throughout the trial, and often earlier on Fridays.

Alexia Tsotsis March 27, 20153:04 pm

We’ve just heard from a source that KPCB expects the verdicts on the first two claims to stand, no matter what happens with the fourth claim. Jury is still out on the fourth claim, literally. But the other three should hold. “Partial verdict” is what the hallway chatter is calling it. 

Colleen Taylor March 27, 20152:56 pm

Here was Kleiner’s spin on the firing at the time: http://techcrunch.com/2012/10/03/not-so-fast-kleiner-perkins-says-it-did-not-fire-ellen-pao-looking-to-facilitate-her-transition-out/

Alexia Tsotsis March 27, 20152:55 pm

Scenes from outside the courtroom. This is pretty much how everyone, but especially the jury is feeling right now.

Colleen Taylor March 27, 20152:55 pm

While we’re waiting we can take a stroll down memory lane! Here is the TechCrunch post about Pao’s termination: http://techcrunch.com/2012/10/03/eileen-pao-is-out-at-kleiner-perkins-tells-quora-that-she-was-fired-as-discrimination-case-continues/

Colleen Taylor March 27, 20152:53 pm

The claim in question is whether or not Kleiner Perkins retaliated against Pao when they fired her in October 2012, about five months after she filed her lawsuit. Anecdotally, many courtroom watchers have said in recent days that that may have been the strongest of all four claims.

Colleen Taylor March 27, 20152:52 pm

Just to confirm here everybody: There is no verdict yet. A dispute on one of the four claims puts a hold all the entire ruling.

Alexia Tsotsis March 27, 20152:48 pm

2:44pm … False alarm as we’re almost led back into the courtroom. There are over 50 people waiting outside to get back in, including press, lawyers, the courtroom artist and sundry lookyloos.