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Gearbox takes a step back in legal fight with former exec

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Texas company changes tack

Gearbox’s Texas offices
Gearbox Software

Gearbox Software’s legal fight with its former general counsel Wade Callender has taken a curious turn. The company recently filed a new petition against Callender, minus several claims from its previous petition. Additionally, Gearbox appears not to have followed through on a threat to file an official grievance against Callender.

Gearbox is best known for the Borderlands series, including the forthcoming Borderlands 3. The company is headed up by co-founder and CEO Randy Pitchford, a controversial figure who has been in the news of late, for outbursts on Twitter and for an alleged assault on former employee and Claptrap voice actor David Eddings.

Back in January, Callender filed a lawsuit against his former employer, alleging that Pitchford improperly siphoned $12 million from that company for personal gain. Callender — the former general counsel and vice president of legal affairs at Gearbox — additionally alleged that Pitchford left a USB drive containing “‘underage’ pornography” behind at a company event. Pitchford denies these allegations, and Gearbox called Callender’s suit “meritless.”

Callender’s suit came a month after Gearbox filed a lawsuit against him, alleging that he had failed to repay a loan made to him by the company, and that he had made improper use of company credit cards. In January, Gearbox filed an amended petition that include an extra section in which the company claimed that Callender had revealed company secrets in a “breach of fiduciary duty.”

In a new filing made a week ago in a District Court in Texas, Gearbox dropped that section, which alleged that Callender had breached an “ongoing obligation to preserve confidential information” about the company’s activities. In essence, the section claimed that Callender broke trust with the company by filing a lawsuit, in which company secrets were revealed.

A Gearbox spokesperson declined to comment on the decision. Gearbox’s lawyer did not reply to Polygon’s attempt to contact him.

So far as we can tell, the company has also yet to file a promised grievance against Callender with the State Bar of Texas. A grievance is filed by a client against a lawyer it feels has committed professional misconduct, echoing some of the points made in the lawsuit’s dropped section. According to online legal guide Avvo: “Filing a complaint against an attorney is a serious matter, and should be limited to significant problems.”

In January, Gearbox stated that Callender’s lawsuit was “lies,” and that a “lawyer’s rules of professional conduct expressly prohibit the filing of documents that are knowingly false.” The company declined to confirm whether or not it has filed a grievance. Callender’s page at the State Bar of Texas website shows no indication of ongoing disciplinary action or inquiry.

A spokesperson for the State Bar of Texas told Polygon that it was prohibited by statute from “disclosing disciplinary information unless it results in a public sanction.”

The spokesperson said that a grievance filing would entail holding an initial investigatory hearing and talking to witnesses. It would then entail discovery, depositions, and pre-trial motions.

We’ll keep you updated as these lawsuits work their way through the system.

Update: Former Gearbox general counsel Wade Callender confirmed to Polygon that Gearbox has failed to file the grievance against him that the company promised back in January.

“Because a licensed attorney can inquire about his own good standing, I contacted the state bar directly,” Callender said in a statement to Polygon. “In response, the state bar confirmed it: No grievance was ever filed by those who were publicly threatening such nonsense back in January 2019.”