No settlement — yet — between Canopy, ousted trio

Both sides reportedly in talks, but matter could end up back in court

Published: Wednesday, March 9 2005 12:00 a.m. MST

PROVO — Contrary to published reports, the Canopy Group, a high-tech venture capital firm based in Lindon, has not reached an out-of-court settlement with three ousted executives.

Attorneys for both sides appear to be moving in that direction, but the matter could end up back in court, sources told the Deseret Morning News.

Attorneys for Canopy were expected to appear in 4th District Court Tuesday for a four-day hearing. That hearing was canceled, and according to papers filed just before courts closed on Monday, it was nixed because a settlement had been reached.

A source close to the case — who asked not to be named — said attorneys from both sides are in the middle of delicate negotiations that could result in a settlement.

In January, former Canopy chief executive officer Ralph Yarro filed a lawsuit that alleged he and two other top executives were illegally fired Dec. 17 by a group led by the daughter of Ray Noorda, who founded both Novell and Canopy.

In a countersuit, Canopy and the Noordas claimed Yarro, ex-chief financial officer Darcy Mott and former corporate counsel Brent Christensen had swindled some $25 million from the company.

Both sides claim the other took advantage of Ray Noorda, who is said to be suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

In an affidavit, Yarro says that Noorda's daughter, Val Noorda Kriedel, orchestrated the Dec. 17 meeting in which her father, allegedly reading from a script, moved for the termination of Yarro, Mott and Christensen.

The Canopy countersuit claims the three took advantage of Noorda's diminished mental capacities by crafting a compensation and incentives plan that paid them millions, while Ray Noorda was only paid $60,000 a year, and his wife, Lewena, who sat on the board of directors with her husband and Yarro, wasn't paid at all.

Kimball Thomson, a spokesman for Yarro, declined comment on the case Tuesday, and attorneys representing Canopy did not return a phone message seeking comment.

Noorda started Canopy in 1992 as a venture capital firm dedicated to helping software start-ups in Utah. The firm invested in dozens of companies over the years, most notably the SCO group, which made headlines for suing IBM and Linux users for copyright infringement. Yarro became CEO in 1996.


E-mail: jhyde@desnews.com

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