Update: Randy Pitchford has publicly alluded to the lawsuits following Kotaku’s original story, while Gearbox itself has offered an official statement.
In a series of tweets posted this afternoon, Pitchford said “The attacks made by my former friend and colleague have no basis in reality or law. He is simply trying to shake me down for money,” while Gearbox’s statement reveals the company is filing a grievance in Texas against Wade Callender.
Gearbox’s full statement to Kotaku reads:
Gearbox will be filing a grievance with the State Bar of Texas against our former general counsel Wade for disciplinary proceedings for filing a lawsuit that includes accusations that he knows to be untrue. The lawyer’s rules of professional conduct expressly prohibit the filing of documents that are knowingly false. The tell is within Wade’s claim itself – his use of hedged lawyer language and clever application of quotation marks betray that he knows that the impression he is trying to create is based in lies. We imagine that he used the quotation marks and lawyer language in hopes that will give him some angles of defense when we inevitably take action against him for false statements. Wade is engaged in a shakedown and he’s clearly using deceit and lies to try to cause damage by promoting a narrative that he knows is false.
“I am just going to try to focus on my work and trust that truth and justice will prevail with the courts,” Pitchford also wrote on Twitter. “It is very painful that a former friend and colleague would lie to try to associate me with such vile behavior in his own greedy pursuit of money.”
Additionally, while remaining unspecific, Gearbox’s former VP of Business Development David Eddings tweeted “Yes. It’s true” following Kotaku’s original report. However, Eddings did not go into any further detail regarding what specifically he claims is true from the lawsuits.
Stay tuned to IGN for updates on this story as it progresses. Original story follows:
Randy Pitchford, CEO of Gearbox, and a former general counsel for the game studio are in a legal battle in which the counsel accuses Pitchford of allegedly receiving “a secret $12 million bonus from publisher Take-Two Interactive as an advance against Borderlands profits.”
As reported by Kotaku, the legal battle was sparked when Gearbox sued its former counsel, Wade Callender, for “fraud and breach of fiduciary duty.”
According to the lawsuit, Gearbox alleged that Callendar, who worked at the company from 2010 until 2018, borrowed money and destroyed evidence for a home loan, borrowed money for tuition, and paid back neither in full.
In addition, Callendar reportedly “abused the privilege of credit card access by charging unapproved, wholly personal expenses, including family vacations, gun club memberships and firearms accessories, and trying to get six-pack abs.”
A little over a month later, in December of 2018, Callendar sued Gearbox and Randy Pitchford, accusing Pitchford “of violating various contracts involving both Gearbox and a separate real estate company that they both owned, as well as Callender’s own employment contract.”
Callendar’s lawsuit claimed Pitchford and he were longtime friends, but the relationship began to deteriorate over the past couple of year.
The main point of the lawsuit alleges “Pitchford struck a deal in 2016 to receive a “personal, secretive ‘Executive Bonus’ of $12,000,000 to be paid directly to a Pitchford entity called ‘Pitchford Entertainment Media Magic, LLC.’” That bonus, Callendar and his lawyers argue, is an advance upon royalties that would otherwise go to Gearbox’s staff.”
The allegations don’t end there, and some get pretty ugly.
Callendar claims Pitchford left a USB drive in a Dallas, Texas restaurant that contained sensitive corporate documents for Gearbox and many partners including Sony and Microsoft. Furthermore, the lawsuit states “upon information and belief, Randy Pitchford’s USB drive also contained Randy Pitchford’s personal collection of ‘underage’ pornography.”
Wade also accused Pitchford of hosting parties in which “adult men have reportedly exposed themselves to minors, to the amusement of Randy Pitchford.”
“The allegations made by a disgruntled former employee are absurd, with no basis in reality or law,” a Gearbox spokesperson said in a statement to Kotaku. “We look forward to addressing this meritless lawsuit in court and have no further comment at this time.”
This isn’t the first time Gearbox has been in a lawsuit, as in 2013 the company found itself in a legal battle over Aliens: Colonial Marines for falsely advertising the title.
Adam Bankhurst is a news writer for IGN and thinks this is quite a messy situation. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamBankhurst.