I had to grin a little when I saw this post about Apple not handing over Scott Forstall’s phone number in discovery to Epic as part of their lawsuit. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I’ve been in Apple’s shoes on these kinds of requests, and I think their answer is not as silly as it sounds.
When you’re in a lawsuit, the parties ask each other questions (the fancy legal term is “interrogatories”), that the other side is then bound to answer under the penalty of perjury. That means if you give a false answer, you could end up in contempt of court and even possibly in the pokey. When a party asks a company to answer these interrogatories about former employees, it puts the company lawyers in quite the pickle.
They could try and go and find Forestall’s phone number. But that assumes they can easily find such information and confirm (under penalty of perjury) it is correct. Forstall doesn’t seem to have left on the best of terms and it may be they don’t have access to this information. If they do put a phone number in that answer and they are incorrect, they could be subjecting whatever Apple executive signs the perjury declaration to a pile of trouble. The only bit I’d add is that if I were Apple’s counsel and I thought I had a good phone number that I couldn’t confirm, I’d answer something like “The last known phone number was 555-867-5309”. Regardless, it actually makes more sense to say “I don’t know” and let the other guy go figure it out without you having to stick your neck out and perjure yourself. So, the headline sounds crazy, but it really isn’t.