Anthony Levandowski, a self-driving car engineer who was at the center of a trade secrets suit, has lodged a motion to compel Uber into arbitration in the hopes that his former employee should bear the cost of at least part of the $179 million judgment against him.
The motion to compel arbitration lodged this week is a part of Levandowski’s bankruptcy process. It’s the latest chapter episode in a long and winding legal saga that has indulged Uber and Waymo, the former Google autonomous car project that is now a business under Alphabet.
The motion represents the first legal measures to force Uber to stand by an indemnity agreement with Levandowski. Uber inked an indemnity settlement in 2016 when it purchased Levandowski’s autonomous truck startup, Otto. Under the arrangement, Uber stated it would indemnify — or compensate — Levandowski against claims introduced by his former employer, Google.
In Uber’s view, the stakes are a minimum of $64 million, based on the ride-hailing firm’s annual report registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Though Levandowski, who was required in March 2020 to pay Google $179 million, is shooting for more.
Levandowski was a lead engineer and one of the founding members in 2009 of the Google autonomous project, which was internally called Project Chauffeur. The Google self-driving project later came out to become Waymo, an enterprise under Alphabet.
Levandowski was paid some $127 million by Google for his work on Project Chauffeur, based on the court docket filed this week.