Gearbox Software CEO Accused of Contempt in Latest Filing

Serious - CEO of Gearbox Software Randy Pitchford - Getty - H 2019
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Randy Pitchford was initially accused of harassment, taking a "secret" $12 million bonus and possessing a USB with "underage pornography" in a lawsuit by former Gearbox legal counsel Wade Callender in December.

Randy Pitchford, CEO of video game studio Gearbox Software, continues to be embroiled in legal battles with the company's ex-lawyer, Wade Callender. The attorney on Tuesday filed a motion in Dallas County (Texas) district court for contempt and requested sanctions against Gearbox alleging "discovery abuse" and failure to produce certain court ordered documents. The latest filing comes after a lengthy legal battle between Callender and Pitchford, which dates back to December.

"Callender believes he can prove that GBX (Gearbox), and their lawyers, continue to violate this Court’s order and hide documents," the filing reads. "Enough is enough and GBX needs to be held in contempt and sanctioned for this behavior."

In December, Callender filed an initial suit against Pitchford and Gearbox, alleging he was harassed for his Christian faith, that Pitchford made a "secret" deal to earn $12 million as an advance upon royalties and that Pitchford had left a USB drive at a Texas restaurant that contained sensitive corporate information from the studio and its publishing company, 2K Games, as well as "underage pornography." Ten days later, the Borderlands studio sued Callender for fraud and breach of fiduciary duty. 

In February, Callender served Gearbox with a set of eight interrogatories, to which the company in response issued a "one-page document" in March. In April, Callender claimed a deficiency in Gearbox's response and requested the company amend its response. A week later, after a lack of response from Gearbox, Callender filed a motion to compel Gearbox to respond to the deficiency letter. Gearbox then agreed to provide amended interrogatory responses by July 3, though it later asked for a 30-day extension, pushing the deadline to Aug. 2.

When the Aug. 2 deadline arrived, Gearbox "provided their 4th amended responses" and "produced certain documents," one of which was a text correspondence between Pitchford and a "member of the press that he had podcast with" in which the two discuss the USB drive.

"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 filing claims.

In December, Pitchford discussed the USB drive on an episode of the Piff Pod with host John van der Put, a comedian and fellow magician (Pitchford is a well-known magician and frequently patrons Hollywood's Magic Castle). During the conversation, Pitchford mentioned the USB contained "barely legal pornography."

On Monday, ahead of Callender's official filing on Tuesday, the Dallas County Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denied Gearbox's request for relief, in which 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."

"It is obvious that [Gearbox] intends to continue its clear pattern of discovery abuse for which it has already been sanctioned," Callender's Tuesday filing read. 

On Wednesday, the court found Callender's motion to be "sufficient" and the presiding judge issued an order to show cause to Gearbox, demanding the company appear before the court on September 25. "The purpose of the hearing to occur at that time on that day in this court is to determine whether Gearbox Software LLC should be held in contempt and sanctioned for failure to comply with the order entered in this case on July 1, 2019," the judge said.

August 28, 1:06 p.m. PT Updated with judge's order to show cause