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A Santa Clara County jury found that two disgruntled workers maliciously libeled their former employer and two managers in cyberspace, awarding $425,000 in actual damages and setting the stage for punitive damages to follow.

“I am thrilled that the jury saw through the fog of claims that this is supposedly protected opinion versus false and malicious facts,” said Lynne Hermle, the Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe partner who represented Varian Medical Systems and two of its executives.

The eight-woman, four-man jury found that defendants and research scientists Michelangelo Delfino and Mary Day had libeled the company and executives by posting more than 14,000 defamatory and often vulgar messages on more than 100 Internet message boards and their own Web site.

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