Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford Accused Of Contempt In Latest Court Filing
Gearbox continues to be embroiled in legal disputes ahead of Borderlands 3's release.
Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford continues to be embroiled in legal disputes stemming from a host of allegations made against him over the past few months. Wade Callender, Gearbox's former legal counsel, filed a motion on Tuesday in Dallas County (Texas) district court for contempt and requested sanctions against Gearbox, alleging "discovery abuse" and failure to produce certain court-ordered documents.
This is the latest filing in a lengthy legal battle between Pitchford and Callender. It started with a filing by Gearbox in November 2018, alleging that Callender "exploit[ed] Gearbox’s generosity and trust for his own personal gain." Callender responded with a countersuit a month later, accusing the Gearbox CEO of harassing the company's former general counsel because of his Christian faith. The suit also accused Pitchford of taking a "secret" $12 million bonus as an advance on royalties, and of syphoning profits from Gearbox to fund "Peacock Parties" where adult male guests "reportedly exposed themselves to minors, to the amusement of Randy Pitchford." There was also the USB drive Pitchford left in a Texas restaurant allegedly containing sensitive corporate information from the studio and its business partners--such as 2K Games, Take-Two Interactive, Sega, Sony, and Microsoft--as well as "underage pornography." Ten days after the filing, Gearbox sued Callender for fraud and breach of fiduciary duty.
"Callender believes he can prove that GBX (Gearbox), and their lawyers, continue to violate this Court’s order and hide documents," the most recent filing reads. "Enough is enough and GBX needs to be held in contempt and sanctioned for this behavior." This follows months of back-and-forth legal disputes between the two parties. Callender served Gearbox with a set of eight interrogatories in February of this year, which the Borderlands developer responded to in March with a one-page document. Callender claimed a deficiency in this response and requested an amendment. After a week with no response, Callender filed a motion to compel Gearbox to respond to the deficiency letter. Gearbox agreed to provide amended interrogatory responses by July 3, but a later 30-day extension pushed this back to August 2.
When the latest deadline arrived, Gearbox provided their response, which included text correspondence between Pitchford and a "member of the press that he had podcast with" in which the two discuss the aforementioned USB drive. Pitchford appeared on the December 22 episode of the Piff Pod podcast one day after Callender's suit was filed. During the conversation with comedian and fellow magician, host John van der Put, Pitchford mentioned the USB drive contained "barely legal pornography."
"In response to 'Is the USB stick falling out or has the internet moved on now?', Pitchford replied 'Internet is fine. All they care about is if my next video game is good or not.' It comes as no surprise that GBX did not want to disclose this very telling document," the latest filing claims.
The allegations claim the USB stick was discovered at a Medieval Times restaurant in 2014, in a location a stone's throw away from Gearbox's Plano, Texas, headquarters. During this time, Callender and other Gearbox counsel were mediating the Aliens: Colonial Marines class-action; another case where Pitchford's conduct has been controversial. Earlier this year, Pitchford was involved in another dispute with former Gearbox vice president (and the original voice of Borderlands' Claptrap), David Eddings. After Pitchford called him "bitter and disgruntled," Eddings spoke up and accused the Gearbox CEO of physically assaulting him in a hotel lobby during GDC 2017, along with numerous other allegations.
On Monday, ahead of Callender's official filing, the Dallas County Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denied Gearbox's request for relief. The company claimed the "trial court abused its discretion by overruling numerous objections to requests for production of documents and compelling production of certain documents." The appellate court stated that Gearbox "have not shown they are entitled to the relief requested."