HP Must Release Letter About CEO’s Misdeeds

     (CN) – The Delaware Chancery Court refused to seal a letter that attorney Gloria Allred sent Hewlett Packard’s former CEO about the executive’s allegedly inappropriate relationship with an HP contractor.

     Allred, representing contractor Jodie Fisher, wrote a letter to Hewlett Packard CEO Mark Hurd discussing Fisher’s claims against him and HP. This led to buzz from the national media that the allegations were tied to Hurd’s resignation from the computer company in August 2010.
     Stockholder Ernesto Espinoza sued HP to obtain company records relating to the company’s handling of the letter. While Espinoza and HP agree that the letter is not confidential, Hurd and Fisher claimed that its contents should remain private.
     The Delaware Court of Chancery allowed Hurd to intervene and show why the letter should remain sealed. Hurd failed to convince the court.
     “Hurd has not carried his burden to demonstrate good cause,” Vice Chancellor Donald Parsons wrote. “Therefore, subject to a narrow exception. … I order that the Allred Letter be unsealed.”
     “The contents of the letter demonstrate that it did not contain private, personal facts, but rather was a business communication sent to Hurd for the purpose of apprising him of legal claims against him and his employer arising from allegations pertaining to his role as company CEO,” he added. “That Hurd immediately turned the letter over to HP’s general counsel, and not his own personal attorneys, further supports this conclusion.”
     After Hurd reportedly settled with Fisher for an undisclosed sum, HP conducted an investigation and concluded that its sexual harassment policy had not been violated. The same was not true, however, of its standards of business, HP told investors after ousting Hurd over expense reports he may have falsified to conceal the relationship.
     The Wall Street Journal reported that Allred’s letter contained allegations that Hurd had told Fisher about HP’s plans to buy Electronic Data Systems Corp.
     After his resignation, Hurd went on to join Oracle Corp. as one of its two presidents.

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