Billionaire Sues Roehm for Defamation

Irwin Jacobs Says He Has No Knowledge of Fired Wal-Mart Exec's Claims

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BATAVIA, Ohio (AdAge.com) -- Minnesota billionaire Irwin Jacobs has sued former Wal-Mart Stores marketing executive Julie Roehm and her attorneys for defamation in Benton County, Ark., circuit court.
The latest lawsuit entangles yet another person in the growing legal warfare surrounding Julie Roehm's firing by Wal-Mart last December.
The latest lawsuit entangles yet another person in the growing legal warfare surrounding Julie Roehm's firing by Wal-Mart last December.


The action follows a threat to sue if she didn't retract allegations that Mr. Jacobs gave Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott deals on boats and a pink diamond and hired the executive's son in apparent violation of the company's policy.

Another person
In an interview with AdAge.com on Friday, Mr. Jacobs denied knowledge of the diamond and said Mr. Scott was treated the same as "30,000 other people" who bought Wellcraft boats from the Genmar Holdings unit he chairs. He acknowledged Genmar hired Mr. Scott's son, Eric, but said the hiring was reviewed by boards of both companies, and that Eric Scott was barred from doing business with Wal-Mart.

The lawsuit entangles yet another person in the growing legal warfare surrounding Ms. Roehm's firing by Wal-Mart last December.

Litigation trail
Ms. Roehm sued Wal-Mart in January, charging wrongful termination and breach of contract. In a March counterclaim, Wal-Mart said she was fired for having an affair with former subordinate Sean Womack, who also was dismissed, and for accepting gratuities from and discussing employment with employees of DraftFCB prior to that agency's selection by Wal-Mart, which later was reversed.

Ms. Roehm has denied those allegations in her own filing in May, adding that Wal-Mart tolerated breaches of its ethics code by Mr. Scott, as well as by Chief Merchandising Officer John Fleming, Wal-Mart.com CEO Raul Vazquez, former senior counsel Robert Rhoads and others.

Wal-Mart has denied the allegations against Mr. Scott and said it will answer the other allegations in court.

Attorneys for Ms. Roehm couldn't be reached for comment.
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