Fired Wal-Mart Exec's Lawsuit Dismissed


A state judge in Michigan has sided with Wal-Mart Stores and dismissed a lawsuit by former marketing executive Julie Roehm over her firing, saying the case should be filed in Arkansas.

In a ruling filed Monday, Oakland County Circuit Judge Denise Langford Morris said almost all aspects of the case took place in Arkansas and that Roehm's contract with Wal-Mart stipulated that any disputes should be litigated in courts there.

Arkansas "is the appropriate, convenient forum," the judge wrote.

Wal-Mart welcomed the decision. "We're pleased that the judge granted the motion to dismiss," spokesman John Simley said Wednesday.

Roehm's attorney, B. Andrew Rifkin, said Roehm is still deciding whether to appeal in Michigan or to file it Arkansas.

"It's important to note that this is not a substantive dismissal. None of the substantive issues were addressed," Rifkin said.

Roehm could not immediately be reached for comment.

Wal-Mart had asked the court in June to toss out the lawsuit, arguing that Roehm should have filed the case in Arkansas, where Wal-Mart is headquartered and where Roehm moved from Michigan to work for the retailer.

Roehm is a high-profile advertising executive who was fired in December, less than a year after moving to Wal-Mart from Chrysler Group. At the time, the Bentonville, Ark.-based company declined to say why she was dismissed, but court filings since then have revealed mutual accusations of ethics breaches.

Roehm sued first, filing a breach-of-contract and fraud claim against Wal-Mart in January in Michigan alleging Wal-Mart owes her severance pay that could total $1.5 million.

In March, Wal-Mart filed a counterclaim accusing Roehm of having an affair with her subordinate Sean Womack and of accepting gifts and otherwise showing favoritism toward an agency that was lobbying for Wal-Mart's account. It also accused them of trying to find a job with the ad agency.

Roehm responded that she was a victim of a "smear" campaign and challenged Wal-Mart's allegations.

In May, Roehm claimed in another court filing that Wal-Mart Chief Executive Lee Scott violated the company's ethics policy by accepting trips and discounts on yachts and jewelry from a wealthy entrepreneur who does business with Wal-Mart, Irwin Jacobs.

Both Wal-Mart and Jacobs denied all of Roehm's claims. Jacobs has since filed his own lawsuit in Benton County Circuit Court in Bentonville alleging that Roehm defamed him.

In Roehm's lawsuit against Wal-Mart, a federal judge in Michigan ruled June 4 against Wal-Mart's bid to move the case to federal court in that state.

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