Uber says it will not be indemnifying former star engineer Anthony Levandowski for a $180 million legal award won against him by Google. The company instead claims that Levandowski's guilty plea confirms he's a liar and that he should not be entitled to have the company help with his legal fees.
Levandowski was brought on in 2016 from Alphabet's self-driving car program but Uber wound up firing him after the two companies went to war over trade secrets, according to Bloomberg.
This year, Google won a contract-breach arbitration case against him and Levandowski agreed to plead guilty to trade-secret theft. He was driven into bankruptcy as a result. Levandowski had been counting on Uber's promise for indemnification, but Uber now says they have no obligation to support him.
Instead, in a legal filing, the company said: "Levandowski secretly committed a crime by stealing trade secrets with the intent to use them at Uber. If Uber had known that, it never would’ve entered into any agreements with Levandowski.”
Sure. Because that's not why you hire people directly from Google's competing self-driving program, right?
Levandowski’s lawyer claims that Uber is not allowed to renege on the indemnification because it vetting Levandowski before hiring him and know there was a reasonable chance he had taken information from Google. He claims Uber is trying to protect itself from an unfavorable legal outcome, and nothing more.
“Uber’s assertion that Anthony did not disclose material information to Uber is false,” Levandowski’s lawyer said.
Uber says Levandowski forfeited his indemnification when he asserted his 5th Amendment right and refused to testify. Levandowski will likely argue in the future that Uber was so eager to hire him, they offered to buy his $680 million in stock and looked the way when red flags arose during his vetting report.
Their vetting report on Levandowski showed he had “highly confidential Google proprietary information,” including source code, design files, engineering documents and software related to self-driving cars.
Which is probably why they hired him in the first place...