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The employee who brought charges against Novell Inc. that resulted in a $1.725 million court judgment against the computer networking giant is a "disgruntled employee" who waited three years to file her claim, said the vice president of major marketing for the Provo-based company.

Ron Heinz, in a telephone interview Friday, said the $1.725 million settlement came after Mary Slutman complained that Novell failed to inform government negotiators about its pricing policies and discount options.Heinz said the allegations stem from a period - between 1986 and 1989 - when Novell was growing rapidly and deals were being made all over the world.

"Due to a lack of sufficient infrastructure, our best-faith estimate failed to include a couple of deals that probably fell through the cracks," Heinz said.

Federal law requires a company to provide all relevant pricing information to the General Services Administration contract negotiators.

Novell won four of the GSA contracts calling for provision of automated data processing equipment and software between 1985 and 1989.

"It's a one-edged sword," said Heinz. "The prices can come down but cannot go up, so you make your best estimate and that has to hold for a year."

Slutman's complaint maintained that Novell failed to inform GSA negotiators that companies who sold Novell products to federal agencies under separate contracts received rebates.

The settlement, coming from the Justice Department's civil division, provides $310,000 to Slutman for her part in bringing the matter to the government's attention.

Novell has no further obligation in the matter either to the Justice Department or to Slutman, Heinz said.

And since 1989, Novell has declined to hold to a GSA schedule, instead offering the opportunity to dealers and resellers who offer company products.

"We consider this a one-time situation," said Heinz.