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A San Francisco jury on Wednesday found Oracle Corp. retaliated against one of its executives by firing her for blowing the whistle on the Silicon Valley firm’s alleged piracy of a German company’s trade secrets. The six-man, six-woman jury awarded fired Oracle Vice President Sandy Baratta $2.7 million in lost wages and accrued stock options. But jurors awarded no punitive damages. “We didn’t think there was clear and convincing evidence that she deserved punitive damages,” jury foreman John Epelbaum said. Epelbaum said jurors found Oracle’s key witnesses — a human resources director and technical manager — less than credible. During the three-week trial presided over by Superior Court Judge John Munter, Baratta’s attorney Alan Exelrod told jurors that his client was victimized for doing what she thought was the ethical thing by raising the issue of the alleged purloined software from Germany’s SAP. Baratta had written an e-mail telling her superiors that the purported illegal activity opened Oracle up to legal action and a public relations problem. She claimed they ignored her and then fired her. Jurors also agreed that Baratta had reason to believe that Oracle discriminated against its women executives who left for pregnancy leave. “I’m delighted,” Exelrod said after the verdicts were read. “We were totally vindicated in all of our claims,” the Rudy, Exelrod, Zieff & True partner added. Baratta said she felt jurors had not only returned her lost wages, but also recognized Oracle’s shabby treatment of her. “Oracle did a very bad thing to me and to have a jury of my peers say, ‘Oracle you were wrong,’ makes me feel real good,” Baratta said. She also said Oracle has since attempted to blackball her with at least one other firm. When she was terminated, Baratta was making up to $350,000 a year with stock options. She currently is working as a consultant with a San Jose start-up for $1,100 a day. “I think you can say that Oracle has tried to poison the water to prevent me from getting the kind of job I deserve,” she said. Linda Shostak, a Morrison & Foerster partner and lead defense counsel said: “I accept [the verdict], and we’ll be pursuing all our remedies.” She declined to say whether that included an appeal. Baratta, 39, was accused by Oracle of browbeating subordinates to write e-mails praising her managerial skills. Executive Vice President Gary Bloom testified that was the reason he ordered her fired on April 29, 1999, as she waited to board an airplane for a business/pleasure trip to France. Bloom said he acted on the advice of Oracle HR director Judy Starling, whom jury foreman Epelbaum said contradicted herself and was not a credible witness. Likewise, he said Prakash Balebail, a technical manager, was not convincing in explaining how Baratta cajoled him to write an e-mail. Balebail was a nervous, hesitant witness on the stand.

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