Randy Pitchford in bitter legal dispute with former lawyer over alleged $12m bonus

In November, Gearbox filed a suit against its former general counsel Wade Callender, alleging that the lawyer misused company funds and failed to fully pay back personal loans from the studio. A month later, Callender filed a separate suit against CEO Randy Pitchford and Gearbox which makes some extreme allegations. Those include the claim that Pitchford pocketed a secret $12 million bonus as an advance against Borderlands royalties, and even more serious types of misconduct.

Details on the legal disputes come via Kotaku, which also reprinted the suits in full. Gearbox tells the site that the allegations from the “former employee are absurd, with no basis in reality or law. We look forward to addressing this meritless lawsuit in court and have no further comment at this time.”

Gearbox’s suit says that the company gave Callender a $300,000 cash loan in 2014 in order to purchase a home when he “fell on hard times.” Gearbox says the house is believed to be valued in excess of $900,000. The company claims that this loan was the subject of a written agreement that Callender destroyed, and that he has since failed to pay back that loan in full, contrary to the agreement.

The company also claims that Callender misused a company credit card for unapproved personal purchases, including – among other things – “trying to get six-pack abs.” Gearbox further claims that it paid Callender’s legal fees in a personal dispute taking place throughout 2017 and 2018, and made another loan to him for tuition in order to pursue an executive MBA programme.

Callender’s suit, which targets not just Gearbox but also Pitchford, claims that Pitchford received a secret $12 million royalty payment from Take-Two, intended as an advance on Borderlands royalties. The suit alleges that the money wasn’t used to fund development of the game, but instead directed to Pitchford’s personal accounts.

The most damaging allegation comes around an incident which allegedly took place in 2014, in which Callender says Pitchford left a USB drive containing sensitive information about Gearbox and its partners.

Shortly after Kotaku’s publication of this article, David Eddings – former VP of business development at Gearbox through 2017 – tweeted “Yes, it’s true.” Eddings makes no specific reference to either suit or any particular allegations within them, but this was his first activity on Twitter in over a week.

We’ve reached out to Gearbox for further comment in the wake of Eddings’ tweet, and will update in due course.


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