Ellen Pao must pay a fraction of Silicon Valley opponent's legal fees

Ellen Pao must pay $276,000 in legal fees to former Silicon Valley employer

Former venture capitalist Ellen Pao, who lost her high-profile gender discrimination case against her onetime employer, must pay about a quarter of that firm's legal fees, a judge ruled Thursday.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Harold Kahn ordered that Pao will need to pay $276,000, cutting down the nearly $1 million that Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers had demanded in compensation for costs in the legal battle. 

The five-week trial captivated the attention of Silicon Valley and beyond. The technology industry has been blasted for failing to hire and promote women as tech companies rapidly multiply and expand.

Kahn said the fees cover the cost of legal experts along with travel expenses and equipment rentals, while taking Pao’s financial resources into account. 

“There is no doubt that KPCB has ‘vastly’ greater economic resources than Ms. Pao,” Kahn wrote in a tentative ruling released Wednesday, ahead of his final decision in a court hearing Thursday. “Nor is there any doubt that Ms. Pao is not indigent.”

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers said the amount was appropriate, given that Pao had refused a $1-million settlement offer, forcing KPCB to go to trial.

"We’re pleased the court has reached a fair result,” KPCB spokeswoman Christina Lee said. The ruling “recognizes that our settlement offer was reasonable and made in good faith.”

A spokeswoman for Pao, who is now the interim chief executive at the website Reddit, declined to comment on the ruling.

Pao sued KPCB in 2012 for $16 million, claiming the prestigious Menlo Park, Calif., firm had discriminated against her for being a woman -- and then fired her when she protested. She lost the case on all counts in a jury trial in San Francisco Superior Court and is appealing the decision. 

Pao had offered to withdraw the appeal in exchange for a $2.7-million payout from KPCB to reimburse her own legal fees, according to documents filed by KPCB, but the firm refused.

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