As part of a shareholder lawsuit against Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ), the Delaware Supreme Court ruled Thursday that HPQ must release a letter written to its former CEO, Mark Hurd. The letter, which made allegations of sexual harassment, led to Hurd’s downfall and eventual resignation.
Celebrity attorney Gloria Allred penned the letter on behalf of her client, Jodie Fisher, who worked as an event hostess for HPQ during Hurd’s reign. The language was meant for maximum impact — that is, in terms of getting a nice settlement!
The letter accuses Hurd of having an obsession with Fisher and trying to get her to have sex with him. The letter said Hurd tried to impress Fisher with his dealmaking capabilities, such as his $14 billion transaction for Electronic Data Systems. It also said Hurd showed Jodie an ATM slip that noted a balance of more than $1 million.
Apparently, Fisher wasn’t impressed and rejected the advances.
Now, keep in mind that Fisher herself ultimately said the letter had “many inaccuracies.” Hewlett-Packard also found no evidence of sexual harassment, though Hurd eventually resigned amid the scandal. However, the company did believe Hurd did not properly account for funds he spent on dinners.
In the end, Hurd still landed a nice gig as the co-president of Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL). He also picked up a nice $40 million severance package.
As is typical in such things, we likely never will know what really happened. Both Hurd and Fisher entered a confidential settlement, so their lips are sealed.
This is just as well. Hewlett-Packard’s new CEO, Meg Whitman, already has a big challenge in putting together a turnaround, so the company certainly doesn’t need a distraction. And it’s probably a good bet Whitman will be focused on getting things done — not fooling around.
Tom Taulli runs the InvestorPlace blog IPOPlaybook, a site dedicated to the hottest news and rumors about initial public offerings. He also is the author of “All About Short Selling” and “All About Commodities.” Follow him on Twitter at @ttaulli. As of this writing, he did not own a position in any of the aforementioned securities.