[caption id="attachment_56046" align="alignleft" width="300"] Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff testified that Errol Samuelson and Curt Beardsley did not offer him Move trade secrets[/caption]
A $1.77 Billion legal battle between News Corp owned Move.com and Zillow continues in the USA, hearing from Zillow chief executive Spencer Rascoff that accused executives Errol Samuelson and Curt Beardsley did not offer to share trade secrets.
Move Inc, which operates Realtor.com for the National Association of Realtors (NAR) say its two former employees also destroyed evidence that would have shown they misappropriated trade secrets at the time they were employed by Zillow.
Samuelson and Beardsley maintain they had no duty to preserve evidence before a lawsuit was filed against them and they did not intentionally destroy evidence in bad faith, but rather deleted data to protect their own personal information.
“Absolutely not,” replied Rascoff multiple times, Geek Wire reports. If one of the executives had suggested as much during employment discussions, “I would have hung up the phone at that very moment,” Rascoff told the court.
Geek Wire also reports that Zillow believes the alleged destruction of evidence has damaged its case.
As part of the hearing this week, Geek Wire says Move is asking the judge to either issue a judgment against Zillow based on the executives’ actions, or to issue an instruction at trial requiring the jury to presume that the deleted evidence would have shown that the executives and Zillow used Move’s proprietary information improperly.
Rascoff also testified that there were instances in which he "stopped Samuelson during conversations" to make sure they weren’t getting into areas that would be inappropriate based on his past employment as a Move executive.
"Curt (Beardsley) made a number of decisions that exhibited bad judgment that I can only describe as knuckle-headed moves, which in the aggregate created the appearance of impropriety,” Geek Wire quotes Rascoff as saying.
Rascoff said he learned of the situation from Beardsley’s deposition, noting that the executive was disciplined for “the totality of his actions.”
Beardsley was suspended by Zillow for two weeks without pay in 2015 in part for retaining Move information on his computer after he joined the Seattle company.
In other situations, Beardsley has also acknowledged destroying or reformatting external drives after being instructed to preserve documents related to the case.
Media reports also say Beardsley testified that he had erased files from Zillow computers because he had used them in viewing pornography.
According to a court transcript quoted on Seeking Alpha, Beardsley admitted to accessing pornographic websites and viewing pornographic material, which he "didn't want to have come out".
According to Geek Wire Zillow added: "Ultimately, this comes down to News Corp. trying to win in the courts, since they aren’t winning in the court of consumer opinion."