No Ruling Yet On Google Plane Talk

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A judge in Santa Clara County Superior Court has decided to postpone ruling on a request from lawyers for Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page to muzzle their former aircraft designer from discussing the massive Boeing 767 being retrofitted for their use.

No Ruling Yet On Google Plane Talk
Google Plane Talk Gets Heated

Money. Power. Greed. All that’s missing is a femme fatale to make the now-public lawsuit over the redesign of a personal “party plane” into a Hollywood script. ‘Brokeback Mountain View,’ as a title, perhaps? Maybe not.

It’s not all about in-plane hammocks and king-size beds, if lawyers for Brin and Page can be believed. Documents made public as part of a report by the Mercury News about the violation of a gag order on aircraft designer Leslie Jennings show an eagerness to stop Jennings from discussing the ongoing saga behind the plane’s refitting.

A Wall Street Journal article about the tiff included a rendering of plans for the airplane’s interior design. Jennings also disclosed that he was fired after trying to inform Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who had taken control of the plane project, that the holding company owning the plane would be overcharged for materials used by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Those comments led to the most recent legal complaints about Jennings, who was fired from the project. Jennings has sued the holding company, Blue City LLC, for payment of the remainder of his contract. The designer has been particularly stung by the implication his work was not up to par.

With Judge Joe Huber in California declining to enforce a gag order against Jennings immediately, the designer then spoke to the Mercury News about the legal fight. A now-ex friend, lawyer Rob Zeitinger, put Jennings in touch with Ken Ambrose, a real estate developer and pilot who in turn is a friend of Schmidt’s.

Jennings met with the Google co-founders a couple of times, but mostly worked through Ambrose to communicate with Schmidt, according to the article:

Jennings said he sometimes heard from Brin and Page, but that he mostly dealt with Ambrose, who reported directly back to Schmidt. “I think Schmidt underestimated the interest of the other two boys of some of the things they would want and some of the things that were important to them,” Jennings said.

An example, cited in court records, has to do with the size of the plane’s lavatories. Jennings thought they were too small. When he brought up the issue, he said he was overruled by Ambrose. Jennings said Ambrose was “making decisions he wasn’t qualified to make.”

When Jennings sued Blue City after his firing, old friend Zeitinger sued Jennings on behalf of Page and Brin. That countersuit contributed to Jennings’ decision to talk with the media about the plane project. His observations on comments made by Brin and Page over what size beds to have in the staterooms, and whether or not a sofa could be moved around the plane while it is in flight, have led to chuckling among those who follow the search industry that Google dominates.

“I didn’t mean to embarrass them,” Jennings said in the report. He said of Page and Brin that “you couldn’t ask for nicer people to work with.”

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

No Ruling Yet On Google Plane Talk
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