BUSINESS

Firm claims Ellen Pao asked for $2.7 million to avoid appeal

Kleiner Perkins: Ellen Pao asked for $2.7 million to drop appeal

Ellen Pao, who lost a high-profile Silicon Valley gender discrimination suit earlier this year, has asked the firm she sued to pay her $2.7 million to avoid an appeal, the firm said Friday.

Lawyers for Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers said Pao demanded that amount to cover costs she incurred while pursuing the lawsuit, according to a 15-page filing by the firm to recoup its own costs for the suit.

In a later statement, the firm said Pao also said she would end her appeal in exchange for the $2.7 million.

“Pao is obligated, as a matter of law, to repay a portion of our legal costs. We have offered to waive these costs as a good faith attempt to bring this matter to a close," Christina Lee, a partner with the firm who manages media relations, said in the statement. "In response, Pao demanded an additional $2.7M payment from KPCB in return for not appealing, despite the jury's unequivocal verdict in our favor on all counts. We have no intention of accepting this unreasonable demand.”

Heather Wilson, a spokeswoman for Pao, declined to comment on the firm's claims. She did say that the firm's previous offer to drop its claim to court costs would have been contingent on Pao declining to appeal the civil suit.

Lee would not say when Kleiner Perkins made its offer to waive the cost of its legal fees, or when Pao made the alleged demand for $2.7 million.

Pao filed a notice of appeal on Monday, just two months after a federal jury found the firm was not guilty of discriminatory action when it fired her in 2012. The 45-year-old, who has served as the interim chief executive of Reddit since late 2014, accused the firm of firing her for speaking up about what she considered poor treatment.

She was seeking more than $16 million in compensatory damages and up to $144 million in punitive damages. 

The filing made public on Friday also revealed that the firm had offered to waive all legal fees and settle with Pao for $1 million in November. The firm sought the settlement in order to avoid the costs of going to trial, according to the filing.

In previous filings, Pao has argued that the amount the firm demanded in compensation for its legal fees is excessive. The firm says Pao owes it  just shy of $1 million in court costs.

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