Former Acxiom Executive Files Countersuit

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Gary Parisi, a one-time Acxiom sales executive accused of stealing confidential documents from his former employer, has filed a countersuit against Acxiom claiming that the company abused the litigation process in an effort to defame him.


Acxiom has dropped its claim that Parisi stole trade secrets when he left the company in mid-2002, said Ben Krage, Parisi's Dallas-based attorney. That claim was included in Acxiom's lawsuit filed in Pulaski County, AR, in October 2002.


According to Parisi's countersuit, Acxiom knew the charge of stealing trade secrets -- a crime in Arkansas -- was false, but included it in the lawsuit anyway. As a result of the allegations, Parisi lost his job at Experian, where he went to work as executive vice president of strategic sales after leaving Acxiom, and was out of work for a year.


Parisi is seeking more than $2 million in damages.


Though it no longer mentions trade secrets, Acxiom's still-pending lawsuit contains numerous other charges against Parisi, including: misappropriating and retaining possession of proprietary information; interfering in existing business relationships between Acxiom and its clients and associates; breach of fiduciary duty and violation of contract; and aiding and abetting others to improperly obtain Acxiom proprietary information.


Acxiom also seeks at least $2 million in damages.


"As we said originally, Acxiom filed a very factual and detailed complaint that speaks very well for itself," Acxiom, Little Rock, AR, said in a statement. "We look forward to our day in court, confident of the outcome. In fact, we are more confident of prevailing today than the day we first filed the complaint."


Parisi originally filed the countersuit a year ago, but refiled last month after learning that Acxiom had dropped the charge of stealing trade secrets, Krage said. In the countersuit, Parisi further alleges that Acxiom conducted a malicious campaign through the media that caused financial damage.


On Oct. 11, 2002, because of Acxiom's actions, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette published a story detailing the charges against Parisi, according to the lawsuit. It also says the Direct Marketing Association mentioned the story in its industry newsletter. The countersuit also alleges that Acxiom caused a copy of the Democrat-Gazette story to be sent to DM News, which ran a story about the lawsuit in its online edition Oct. 21, 2002. However, DM News learned about the story from an industry source outside Acxiom.


Acxiom timed the filing of its complaint against Parisi to coincide with the DMA's 2002 fall conference, ensuring it was a topic of conversation, according to the countersuit. The company also disparaged Parisi to potential employers after he left Experian, the countersuit alleged.


Parisi has regained employment and is working in the database industry, said Krage, though he would not name the company. The job does not pay as well as Parisi's position at Experian, Krage said.


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