US grand jury slaps $940mn fine on Tata firms
Besides the punitive damages, the US Federal Court of the Western District of Wisconsin has asked the company, and its US arm, Tata America International Corp, to pay $240 million to Epic Systems Corp for “ripping off” its healthcare-related software.
The verdict came after the case was heard for around two weeks in Courtroom 250 of Judge William M Conley, based on the lawsuit filed by Epic Systems of Verona — a major company in electronic health records — on October 31, 2014 in the US District Court at Wisconsin capital Madison.
The 39-page complaint alleged that Tata workers, hired as consultants to help a client, Kaiser Permanente in Oregon, to use its software, downloaded 6,477 documents accounting for 1,687 unique files from Epic’s computers inappropriately, including those on its proprietary software.
The complainant further said a Tata employee had tipped off Epic about this activity and that the Indian company’s leadership in the US and India were aware of the development that had commenced in 2012. A TCS official in Mumbai said the company will respond to queries soon.
Epic claimed that the defendant company used the documents and related information to identify features of its software to accelerate the development of a rival product called Med Mantra. The court then asked Epic to prove in what manner Tata Consultancy would have benefited from that information.
The US firm alleged that when confronted by Kaiser Permanente regarding the downloading of Epic data, the TCS staffer initially denied such an act. But later the said employee changed his story and admitted that he had provided his Epic access to two other colleagues.
The lawsuit also alleged the Indian company has engaged in an “elaborate campaign of deception to steal documents, confidential information, trade secrets, and other information and data,” with the purpose of utilising technical expertise developed after years of hard work and investment.
“TCS’s misconduct appears designed to allow TCS and perhaps other Tata entities to unfairly compete with Epic in the marketplace. The unlawful conduct of TCS and potentially other Tata entities must be stopped and an appropriate remedy fashioned for the benefit of Epic,” the lawsuit said.