Former H-P CEO Mark Hurd Can’t Keep Lawyer’s Letter with Client’s Sexual Harassment Allegations Sealed

Delaware’s Supreme Court affirmed a lower court decision allowing an H-P shareholder to take a peek at lawyer Gloria Allred’s letter alleging that her client, former H-P contractor and actress Jodie Fisher, was sexually harassed by the company’s then CEO Mark Hurd.

Citing a lack of trade secrets, as well as proprietary and nonpublic information, the court rejected Hurd’s attempts to keep Fisher’s original harassment allegations in the letter secret (ss the court opinion below).

While Allred’s “letter goes into embarrassing detail about Hurd’s behavior,” the judges wrote, “it does not describe any intimate conversations or conduct.”

Hurd resigned from H-P less than two days after reaching a confidential settlement agreement with Fisher over the harassment allegations raised in her Allred’s letter.

H-P’s board hired outside counsel from Covington & Burling, LLP to investigate Fisher’s charges against Hurd. The firm prepared a report (a/k/a the “Convington Report”) on said conduct. That report will remain under seal, the Delaware high court ruled last month, concluding that it was not essential to shareholder Ernesto Espinoza’s stated purpose of investigating possible corporate wrongdoing.

As frequently happens, it seems likely that shareholder Ernesto Espinoza may release the letter, and the allegations made against Hurd when he was still head of H-P.

You can read the Delaware Supreme Court’s ruling below:

Opinion, Hurd v. Espinoza, et al.
Delaware Supreme Court, Dec. 28, 2011