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Exec who alleged gender bias owes former employer $276,000 for lawsuit costs


(Reuters) — The Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers venture capital firm should get nearly $276,000 instead of the $973,000 it sought from former partner Ellen Pao to cover the cost of successfully defending itself during her discrimination lawsuit, a California judge said on Wednesday.

Most of the Silicon Valley venture capital firm's award would cover fees for its experts, Superior Court Judge Harold Kahn said in a tentative ruling.

Kleiner Perkins sought nearly $865,000 for its expert fees, but Judge Kahn said a “fair approximation” of what the firm incurred for work central to beating back Ms. Pao's claims was nearly $229,000.

Judge Kahn said the “allowable amount of those costs is limited to the work that was reasonably needed to respond to Ms. Pao's claims, and not for all the work that KPCB, its counsel, the experts or those working with them thought might in some way be helpful to KPCB's position in this lawsuit.”

Judge Kahn reached a “fair result,” Kleiner Perkins partner Christina Lee said in a statement.

“This tentative ruling recognizes that our settlement offer was reasonable and made in good faith,” Ms. Lee said. “It also recognizes the cost rules still apply when a plaintiff refuses a reasonable settlement offer and forces the parties to go through an expensive trial.”

Kleiner Perkins had offered Ms. Pao, now interim chief executive of microblogging company Reddit, nearly $1 million to settle before her case went to trial.

Ms. Pao did not accept and sought to convince a jury earlier this year that the venture capital firm had short-circuited her career because she is woman.

The jury sided with Kleiner Perkins.

Ms. Pao, who has said she would appeal, has offered to drop her case for $2.7 million, Kleiner Perkins said in a court filing earlier this month.

Ms. Pao's lawyer was not immediately available for comment on Judge Kahn's tentative ruling.

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