Mexican companies sue Yahoo, law firm charge conspiracy to avoid $2.7 billion judgment

Thu Sep 11, 2014 5:47pm EDT
 
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By Joseph Ax

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Two Mexican companies have sued Yahoo! Inc (YHOO.O: Quote) and law firm Baker & McKenzie in New York federal court, accusing them of engineering a conspiracy to avoid a $2.7 billion judgment issued by a Mexico court in 2012.

In a lawsuit filed on Thursday, Worldwide Directories S.A. de C.V. and Ideas Interactivas S.A. de C.V. said Yahoo and Baker & McKenzie enlisted the help of a senior Mexican judge and other court personnel to “corrupt the appeals process and overturn the judgment.”

A spokeswoman for Yahoo declined to comment. A Baker & McKenzie spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.

The case stems from a contractual dispute over deals between Yahoo and the companies over an online search project in Mexico. The companies filed a lawsuit in 2011 in Mexico, claiming Yahoo had breached its duties by terminating the agreements prematurely.

A Mexican judge issued a $2.7 billion preliminary judgment in December 2012. The size of the damages came as a surprise to investors and other observers of the tech industry.

According to Thursday’s lawsuit, Yahoo and its lawyers at Baker & McKenzie successfully reduced the award to $172,500 by instructing a corrupt Mexican federal judge to meet in secret with the appellate chief judge and “intimidate” her into slashing the damages.

The appeals court also granted Yahoo a $3 million judgment on its counterclaims against the companies as a result of the coercion, the lawsuit said.

The evidence of the conspiracy, the lawsuit claimed, consists of sworn statements from witnesses who directly observed the misconduct, including the original trial judge who issued the judgment.   Continued...

 
A Yahoo logo is pictured in front of a building in Rolle, 30 km (19 miles) east of Geneva, in this file picture taken December 12, 2012.    REUTERS/Denis Balibouse