Risk Management

Home Depot Resists Subpoenas of Execs

In addition, the retailer moves to seal documents related to the lawsuit.
Stephen TaubFebruary 17, 2006

The plaintiff’s lawyer in the Home Depot whistle-blower case wants to take depositions from several top company executives, including the chief financial officer. But so far the home-improvement giant is resisting, according to The New York Post, citing motions filed with the U.S. Department of Labor.

Last month, employee Michael Davis filed a whistle-blower complaint with the DoL charging that he was wrongfully fired when he refused to participate in the practice of allegedly overbilling suppliers for payments earmarked to cover the cost of damaged merchandise. An earlier Post story said the Securities and Exchange Commission had launched an informal probe into whether Home Depot used these payments from suppliers to inflate its earnings.

On Friday, Mark Schwartz, Davis’s attorney, filed a motion with the DoL requiring several current and former Home Depot executives to be available for questioning. The executives named in the motion were CFO Carol Tome, chief executive officer Robert Nardelli, and northern division president Marvin Ellison, as well as Chris Spaccaforno, a former loss-prevention manager, and Troy Rice, whom Ellison replaced.

So far, the retailer has not made the individuals available for depositions, the paper reported, citing a February 15 motion. However, Home Depot has filed a motion to seal documents related to the lawsuit, citing a need to protect trade secrets and other confidential information, said the Post.

Reportedly the company is trying to keep secret its training manuals, compensation plans, and termination records that are on site at its Aspen Hill, Md., store, where Davis worked. In addition, the company is also trying to shield case depositions. “This is a ploy by Home Depot to keep me and others from sharing information with the SEC,” Schwartz told the paper.

“The Home Depot has cooperated fully with the SEC staff and will continue to do so,” noted the company in a statement.