Roehm: Ad Execs Could Testify

CHICAGO In her ongoing lawsuit against Wal-Mart, Julie Roehm plans to call witnesses that could include “any and all current and former employees” of the agencies that competed for Wal-Mart’s $570 million advertising account.

Dismissed from her job last year, Roehm had previously sued Wal-Mart for wrongful firing.

In a case summary filed this week in advance of a scheduling conference to take place April 17, Roehm outlined her list of potential witnesses, naming the heads of several advertising agencies, including DraftFCB CEO Howard Draft; Carat president David Verklin; Kirshenbaum Bond co-chairs Jonathan Bond and Richard Kirshenbaum; Martin Agency president John Adams; JWT CEO Bob Jeffrey; and GlobalHue CEO Don Coleman; as well as Select Resources International chair Catherine Bension.

The summary also included a short list of potential witnesses Wal-Mart may call in its defense. Among them: former Wal-Mart vp, communications architecture Sean Womack (with whom Roehm allegedly had an affair); Womack’s estranged wife, Shelley; Howard Draft; and former DraftFCB chief growth officer Tony Weisman, who now works at Digitas.

The named parties could be expected to give depositions during the discovery phase of the case. Both sides have agreed that discovery would be completed by August 1, 2007.

Dismissed last December as svp, marketing communications, Roehm initially filed suit in January. In the newly filed case summary, Roehm said she might also add a claim of unlawful discrimination “based upon newly discovered evidence and the recent filing by [the] defendant.”

Wal-Mart countered in March, alleging Roehm had breached her fiduciary duty to the company, and providing e-mails in an effort to prove that Roehm and Womack had a romantic relationship, which is against company policy for managers and subordinates.

The Bentonville, Ark., company also claimed Roehm and Womack had accepted gifts from potential vendors and that Womack had sought a job with Interpublic Group’s DraftFCB, the eventual winner, while the review was ongoing.

Roehm later issued a statement that she was the victim of a “smear campaign” being conducted by the giant retailer.

Roehm’s case summary also includes a copy of her employment agreement with Wal-Mart, which outlines her base salary of $325,000, as well as a $250,000 signing bonus, a management incentive plan that allowed her to earn up to 125 percent of her annual salary and restricted stock options worth approximately $300,000. It also includes a post-termination and no-compete agreement—signed by Roehm on Jan. 13, 2006—saying that transition payments (including salary for one year) would not be made “if you are terminated as the result of a violation of Wal-Mart policy.” The agreement also lists 32 potential competitors she could not work for, including Kmart, Target, Home Depot, Sears and Toys R Us.

After the aborted review, Interpublic Group’s The Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., won the $570 million advertising account in a re-pitch.