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Woman behind gender bias suit objects to legal costs

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A woman and a venture capital firm at the center of a high-profile Silicon Valley gender bias lawsuit are now fighting over legal costs.

Attorneys for plaintiff Ellen Pao, who lost the case, filed court documents Friday objecting to more than $970,000 in legal costs sought by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

The costs are excessive and improper, and Kleiner Perkins would have to prove that Pao’s case was frivolous or malicious to collect the money, which is not true, her attorney Alan Exelrod wrote.

Kleiner Perkins’ spokeswoman Christina Lee declined comment on Pao’s filing. The firm has offered to waive all legal costs if Pao does not pursue an appeal.

The case became a flashpoint in an ongoing discussion about gender inequity at elite technology and venture capital firms.

At trial, Pao’s attorneys claimed she was subjected to a number of indignities, including being given a book of erotic poetry by a partner at the firm and being cut out of emails and meetings by a male colleague with whom she broke off an affair.

Kleiner Perkins’ attorney Lynne Hermle countered that Pao failed as an investor at the company and sued to get a big payout as she was being shown the door.

A jury in March found the firm did not discriminate or retaliate against Pao.

In a recent court filing, Kleiner Perkins said it offered Pao $964,000 before the trial to settle the case, but she did not respond.

Exelrod said the offer was not made in good faith and had no reasonable expectation of acceptance given the “extremely high liability exposure and the extensive attorney’s fees that had been generated.”

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