For the past few weeks, a sexual discrimination lawsuit between venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and former staffer Ellen Pao has been rocking Silicon Valley.
Pao stood to win tens of millions if she could prove being a women held her back from promotions at the VC firm. On Friday afternoon, the jury reached its decision. It sided with Kleiner Perkins on all four of Pao’s claims — but only after a miscount shook up the court room.
The jury had to have at least nine votes for or against Pao’s claim that Kleiner Perkins held back her career for complaining about harassment at the firm. But when the judge counted the jury’s votes, it was 8-4.
The jury was sent back to deliberate on the final claim and ultimately voted 9-3 against Pao’s claim.
Why was there a miscount in the first place?
Steve Sammut, one of the jurors, says the miscount stunned nearly all of the jurors. They had reached a 9-3 vote just moments before the judge read the verdict.
One of the jurors quietly changed his mind, Sammut explained, while walking into the court room.
“What happened was, by the time we came up here and we started going through the polling, it turned to 8-4. I can tell you a lot of jurors did not understand why that happened,” Sammut said during a press conference Friday afternoon.
“We were thinking maybe someone was confused on the questions from the judge so we went back and said, ‘OK, somebody changed their mind.’ We didn’t try to pinpoint who changed their mind. It was just a question of, OK if you did change your mind from downstairs to upstairs, why did that happen?”
Sammut didn’t say which juror changed his mind, only that a person admitted to being confused by one question and needed a little more time to think it over.
“We were actually at the point where we thought we were going to have to meet again on Monday. Then he said, ‘OK, I’ve changed my mind,” Sammut says.
The final vote was 9-3 against Pao’s claim.