Netflix and Amazon Beat Blacklisting Lawsuit

Claims filed by Jerry Kowal against Netflix and Amazon included defamation and wrongful termination. The two companies, Netflix and Amazon, are competitors. They both provide online video content. But these two competitors got to share a victory together in court when the Los Angeles Superior Court judge Michael Stern dismissed claims against the two online video content giants. The claims were brought by Jerry Kowal, a former employee of both of the companies listed in the suit. He alleged that he had been wrongfully terminated by Amazon after Netflix blacklisted him.

Kowal worked at Netflix as a director of content acquisition. He had what he described as an exceptional reputation, but quickly noticed that the atmosphere at the company was cold, hostile and cutthroat. As a result, he decided to take a job at Amazon. He claims that shortly after he started at Amazon, Netflix attorneys sent a letter to Amazon accusing Kowal of unfair competition and insisting that they have access to search Kowal’s email accounts and computer/s for any business information belonging to Netflix. Kowal allowed that Netflix information could still be on his devices, but he adamantly denied using any of it for work at Amazon.

The burden of proof fell on Kowal. He needed to prove that there was a likelihood of prevailing on the merits of his claims. The judge decided that he did not meet the expected standard due to the fact that several of his allegations were based on speech protected by California Civil Code 47(b), which covers speech “made…in the initiation or course of any other proceeding authorized by law.” In this particular case, the letter Netflix sent to Amazon alleged unfair competition by Kowal.

For questions about wrongful termination, contact Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik, the southern California employment law experts