In a major arbitration over self-driving vehicle technology, plaintiff Google LLC sought to hold former employees Anthony Levandowski and Lior Ron accountable for alleged breaches of contract and unfair competition. Levandowski worked on Google's engineering team for LIDAR sensors for the project now known as Waymo. He and Ron founded self-driving truck startup Otto and sold it to Uber Technologies Inc. in 2016 for a reported $680 million.
Following a two-week hearing, a JAMS panel awarded Google $127 million, with certain amounts against the defendants individually and certain amounts against them jointly and severally.
Google's lead lawyers, Robert A. Van Nest and Rachael E. Meny of Keker, Van Nest & Peters LLP, said the panel conducted the hearing like a trial. "We had to get evidence from third parties like Uber and associates of Levandowski's like his CPA and lawyers," Van Nest said, "so we got the panel to issue and enforce 16 subpoenas. The other side fought us tooth and nail, but our factual record allowed us to win with overwhelming evidence."
Meny, who cross-examined Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick, said the situation was unusual. "We had to use adverse cross to put on the evidence we needed. Across the board, it was difficult for the third party witnesses to admit their role in what we believed was problematic behavior. They were never really willing to be open until we asked our pointed questions. Ninety percent of our evidence was live."
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