Battle Between Wal-Mart, Roehm Is Over

Lawsuits Dropped, Ending Nearly Year-long Ad Scandal

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Nearly a year after it began, the fierce legal and public realtions battle between Wal-Mart and Julie Roehm appears to be at an end, with the embattled former marketing executive coming out of it having gained nothing.
Julie Roehm
Photo: Scott Breithaupt
Julie Roehm
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point bug Roehm's Rebuttal to Walmart's Counterclaim

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In a press release today, a spokesman for Ms. Roehm said she has decided not to re-file the legal complaint against the retailer that was dismissed by a Michigan state court judge in August after ruling the complaint should be filed in Arkansas, where Wal-Mart is headquartered. Also, Wal-Mart and the Minnesota billionaire Irwin Jacobs, who was brought into the mess via one of Ms. Roehm's filings, said they would call off their actions against her.

'Finacially draining'
"The sole purpose for filing the lawsuit was to recover the severance pay that was outlined in that contract," Ms. Roehm said in the press release. "I thought that a settlement agreement would be reached within a few weeks. Instead, the lawsuit has expanded into other issues, and has become more difficult and financially draining than I ever imagined."

Ms. Roehm, who was fired last December, sued Wal-Mart the following month, news that stoked a full-blown ad-industry scandal fueled by the drama of a high-profile, outspoken female executive flaming out in Wal-Mart's culture. The nasty legal back and forth her complaint sparked had the effect of leading Wal-Mart to file a long, savage counterclaim that accused Mr. Roehm of a romantic relationship with a subordinate and of untoward dealing with executives at DraftFCB , the ad agency Ms. Roehm selected after an account review during her short time at the retailer.

The suit also brought in Mr. Jacobs, whom Ms. Roehm claimed gave Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott a "pink diamond" and hired his son in exchange for preferential treatment that violated Wal-Mart's ethical policy. This summer, Mr. Jacobs filed his own defamation lawsuit against Ms. Roehm.

All litigation is going away
Today, however, it appears all the litigation is going away. Ms. Roehm, for her part, said her decision was influenced by conversations with Wal-Mart and Mr. Jacobs that demonstrated that some of her claims were inaccurate. She also said she is not receiving the severance package she set out to obtain through the lawsuit.

"I have decided to accept Wal-Mart's decision to terminate my employment and move on," she said. "I am not receiving any money or other compensation to settle my case."

A spokesman for Wal-Mart confirmed that the company would drop its counterclaim against Ms. Roehm and that no money changed hands. An assistant to Mr. Jacobs didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Contributing: Jack Neff
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