From Business 2.0’s Dumbest Moments in Business 2005: The Legal List

Today’s Business 2.0 has its list of the follies of last year, in which I’m delighted to say that the legal fraternity have maintained their places of honour. And Google made the list twice. You can find the full list here, but to whet your appetite:

2. Investment bank error in your favor. Collect an additional $1.43 billion.
The judge in billionaire Ronald Perelman’s lawsuit against Morgan Stanley, exasperated by the latter’s delays in handing over documents, instructs jurors to assume that the firm committed fraud. The bank insists it isn’t stonewalling, just running into technology glitches. The jury awards Perelman — who had sued Morgan over its role in his sale of Coleman to Sunbeam for stock that became worthless after an accounting scandal led to bankruptcy — $1.45 billion in damages. Perelman had reportedly offered to settle for $20 million.
5. So that’s why they call it a CrackBerry.
A study by the University of London’s Institute of Psychiatry, commissioned by Hewlett-Packard, finds that “an average worker’s functioning IQ falls 10 points when distracted by ringing telephones and incoming e-mails … more than double the four-point drop seen following studies on the impact of smoking marijuana.”

35. Meanwhile, in other news about Wal-Mart and Germans …
In November, Wal-Mart loses an appeal of a ruling that its attempts to prohibit workplace romances among its 10,500 employees in Germany conflict with the country’s laws. Wal-Mart had tried to introduce a 28-page ethical code that reportedly banned “lustful glances and ambiguous jokes” as well as “sexually meaningful communication of any type.”`

52. And how much to have the record labels not sue them?
In January, members of the Recording Industry Association of America sue Gertrude Walton, a Mount Hope, W.V., resident who had died nearly two months earlier. The lawsuit, Walton’s daughter says, comes despite her having sent copies of the death certificate to the label’s lawyers.

54. Our new orange-glazed chicken is absolutely heavenly.
“It is difficult to conceive what consulting services a deceased individual might provide to Tyson.”

— From a lawsuit by Amalgamated Bank against Tyson Foods board members for breach of fiduciary duties. Among other complaints, the suit alleges the company has promised to pay consulting fees of $800,000 a year to retired CEO Don Tyson — and to keep paying the money to his survivors after he dies.

The Google and Microsoft entries:

18. Perhaps they should change the motto to “Don’t be stupid.”
New Google employee Mark Jen adds a post to his blog in which he says he spent his first day in an HR presentation about “nothing in particular.” Apparently, Jen snoozed through the company’s strict disclosure rules. In a subsequent post, he reveals that the company expects unprecedented revenues and profit growth in 2005, projections that Google has yet to share with Wall Street. Jen soon receives another presentation from HR: a pink slip.

19. “Don’t be stupid” keeps sounding better and better.
In July, Google informs CNET that it will prohibit company employees from talking to its reporters for a full year. Why the boycott? In an article about Google’s privacy practices, CNET reporter Elinor Mills demonstrated the kind of personal information that can be found online by googling CEO Eric Schmidt, revealing his $1.5 billion net worth, details of his attendance at a $10,000-a-plate fund-raiser for Al Gore, and — gasp! — his passion for flying airplanes. In September, facing criticism for hypocrisy and overreaction, Schmidt cuts short the silent treatment and grants Mills an interview.

40. Just google him. We hear it really ticks him off.
“F***ing Eric Schmidt is a f***ing pussy. I’m going to f***ing bury that guy, I have done it before and I will do it again. I’m going to f***ing kill Google.”

— Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, in response to the departure of Mark Lucovsky, a former Microsoft “distinguished engineer” who left last year to work at Google. The alleged aria, punctuated by the tossing of a chair, was cited in a sworn statement by Lucovsky that became public during court hearings over another Microsoft-to-Google defection in September. Microsoft denies Lucovsky’s version of the incident.

41. If that’s what you mean by f***ing killing someone, would you mind f***ing killing us next?
In February, Microsoft unveils a new version of MSN search, developed at a cost of $100 million, in an attempt to take market share from Google. MSN’s share of Internet search traffic promptly drops by a full percentage point.

Comments are closed.