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The New York Times reports that Walmart has filed a lawsuit in Oklahoma, seeking to recover “a trove of company documents” from Bruce O. Gabbard, a former computer security employee who was fired in 2007 after being accused of taping phone calls between a Times reporter and company executives without authorization.

According to the story, “Gabbard has been on the run ever since, pursued by Wal-Mart’s lawyers, who claim he took a trove of company documents with him when he left. A corporate fugitive, he fled Wal-Mart’s home state of Arkansas and has not returned because a state judge has ordered he be arrested on sight and questioned under oath about whether he pilfered documents.

“Now Wal-Mart has filed suit in Oklahoma - where Mr. Gabbard has moved - seeking to enforce the Arkansas judge’s order. Mr. Gabbard’s lawyers say the motion amounts to an attempt to have their client arrested and brought back to Arkansas, which would be highly unusual in a civil dispute.”

Walmart says that while Gabbard claims to have returned the documents in question, there is evidence that he retained copies of them, and the company wants them returned.

The Times writes that Gabbard “has maintained he was a fall guy. His superiors knew he was monitoring phone calls, he says, and had encouraged him to find the leak to the newspaper. Wal-Mart says he acted alone.

“After his dismissal, Mr. Gabbard embarrassed the retailer, telling The Wall Street Journal he was part of an elaborate operation that snooped on employees, stockholders and company critics. Wal-Mart also accused him of leaking trade secrets to the news media, including a plan to increase the retailer’s stock price called ‘Project Red’.”
KC's View:
To be honest, I was shocked to see this story. I remember the original case back in 2007, but I forgot about it and probably assumed that it had been resolved.

I’m also a little surprised that there hasn’t been a movie about this yet. Something along the lines of Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation, one of the great paranoid thrillers ever made.