City claims Lindell destroyed evidence on her city computer

Recent motions filed by attorneys on behalf of the City of Mercer Island in defense of claims by former city attorney and assistant city manager, Londi Lindell, regarding her dismissal from the city, accuse her of intentionally destroying key evidence in the case.

The motion, dated March 10, again asks the court to dismiss the lawsuit brought by Lindell against the city, this time citing “willful spoliation of evidence.” The motion also requests additional sanctions against the defendant, including payment of the defendant’s attorney’s fees.

#319 - Defs' Mot. to Dismiss for Will Spoliation of Evidence and for Add'l Sanctions

Lindell’s lawsuit, filed in United States District Court in Seattle on Dec. 23, 2008, states that Lindell was subject to adverse employment actions, that the defendants named in the suit discriminated against her because of her gender and that her termination lacked due process. The action goes on to say that defendants conspired against Lindell to have her terminated and have continued to retaliate against her since her dismissal. Lindell seeks both monetary and punitive damages from the city.

The defendants’ motion and subsequent declarations, sent to the court late last week, include the findings of a computer forensics consultant who found that Lindell or someone at her behest used a software program that “wiped” the hard drive of her city laptop. The declaration states she took the laptop with her when she left her employment. The software was used on March 11, 2010, and again on Aug. 21, 2010, before she turned over the laptop to the independent third-party forensic examiner as ordered by the court.

#320 - Decl. of Allan Muchmore

The consultant, Alan Muchmore, concluded that software used on the laptop, called C-Cleaner, is designed to eliminate the vast majority of forensic evidence on a computer, including data that could be used to recover deleted documents.

A second declaration filed by attorneys for the city spells out how the timing of the actions coincides with court requests for information from Lindell.

<#321 - Decl. of T. Holt in Support of Motion to Dismiss for Willful Spoliation of Evidence

Both parties have made motions for summary judgment. A trial is set for April.

A response from the plaintiff's attorneys will be posted when it becomes available.

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