Oracle and PeopleSoft Tangle on Discovery

 
 
By Renee Boucher Ferguson  |  Posted 2003-09-30
 
 
 

The legal fisticuffs over Oracle Corp.s intent to wrest control of PeopleSoft Inc. is heating up again, with recent court transcripts that read like a bad Judge Judy episode.

After a lashing from Delaware Chancery Court Vice Chancellor Leo Strine last Wednesday that characterized both companys behavior as jejune, PeopleSoft agreed to submit some 2,000 e-mails—previously deemed as privileged information—to Oracles legal team by Thursday, according to court documents obtained by eWEEK.

Oracle, for its part, agreed to further search one of CEO Larry Ellisons computers, housed on a boat moored in the Mediterranean, and hand over any non-privileged e-mails by Nov. 30.

Last weeks call is the result of a motion filed by Oracle charging that PeopleSoft is inappropriately withholding e-mails during the discovery phase of its case filed against PeopleSoft in a Delaware court. The bulk of the e-mails are from PeopleSofts CEO Craig Conway and originate on or near the date of Oracles tender offer, according to Oracle officials.

In a separate court document PeopleSoft said it would "delist and produce a substantial number of additional documents previously withheld on privilege grounds," but said that Oracle was aware that it was in the process of de-classifying the documents at the time it filed the motion.

The court, however, is impatient with both companys legal wranglings.

"I will tell you, I am half inclined to just simply rule right now," Strine said to the attorneys present on the call. "But I will restrain myself and provide you a little guidance."

Strine demanded that PeopleSoft rethink its approach of classifying documents as business strategy—privileged information unavailable to Oracles legal team.

Strine demanded from Oracle that it provide a certificate to the court and to PeopleSoft that it had turned over all e-mails written by Ellison to PeopleSoft. Strine strongly recommended that both sides straighten up and act responsibly.

"I shouldnt have to be here dealing with you-show-me-your-and-Ill-show-you-mine kind of thing. You are all too good at this kind of thing to require me to do that, said Strine. "Ill just be very clear. You had better have a live fish that you are trying to bring to shore or it wont fly."

Filed in the Delaware Chancery Court, Oracles suit seeks to remove PeopleSofts poison pill device that could impede Oracles takeover.

PeopleSoft, for its part, filed its own suit against Oracle in Alameda County, California. That suit alleges Oracles takeover bid is hostile and sets out to ruin PeopleSofts business.

Oracle is awaiting a decision from both the Department of Justice, expected near the end of October, and the European Union regarding its takeover bid of PeopleSoft.

"The key critical path is regulatory approval," said Chuck Phillips, executive vice president at Oracle, in Redwood Shores, Calif. "If we get that everything else becomes possible. If we dont, nothing is possible."

The DOJs decision is expected sometime in late October.

Discuss this in the eWEEK forum.

Rocket Fuel