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Lindell files lawsuit against city | Former deputy mayor seeks damages for firing

Former Deputy City Manager and City Attorney Londi Lindell has filed a lawsuit against the City of Mercer Island and four top city officials for damages resulting from her dismissal as the assistant city manager last year.

The suit, filed in United States District Court in Seattle on Dec. 23, 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.

Along with the City of Mercer Island, City Manager Rich Conrad, City Councilman and Mayor Jim Pearman, Councilman El Jahncke, and City Finance Director Chip Corder are named as defendants in the suit.

Lindell was fired on April 14, 2008. She was hired by the city in 2000 as the city attorney and was promoted to the assistant city manager in late 2006. Prior to her employment on Mercer Island, Lindell was the city attorney and assistant city manager of Federal Way.

In her complaint, Lindell states that the defendants failed to act against workplace sexual discrimination and harassment and describes several sexually-charged incidents and behaviors that occurred within the city that she said were not dealt with. Lindell also accuses Conrad of treating her differently because of her sex.

Conrad and the city vehemently deny these claims.

“Ms. Lindell’s claims against the city, councilmembers and staff are misguided, and the city is confident when the litigation has concluded it will be determined that Ms. Lindell’s claims are without merit,” said City Attorney Katie Knight. “But because this matter is now in litigation, the city is unable to speak freely about Ms. Lindell’s specific allegations.”

Lindell has said her termination was connected with former city attorney Bob Sterbank’s departure last February. Lindell said they were both let go because of their legal advice regarding an investigation of misconduct by Conrad. Sterbank was paid over $130,000 and signed a confidentiality agreement in return for resigning from the city.

As a result of the City Council’s dealings leading up to her termination, Lindell is also accusing them of violating the open records act.

The claim states a three-member Council subcommittee acted on behalf of the full Council, taking testimony such that state law requires the meetings to be open to the public.

Just weeks before she was finally let go, Conrad had recommended Lindell, who had a performance rating of “outstanding,” for a similar position with the city of Medina.

She was later notified by a city official that “it is not really workable for you to remain at the City.”

Lindell filed an administrative claim for damages seeking an excess of $1 million from the city last year.

Lindell states that she was denied any type of name-clearing hearing before she was terminated. In her complaint in federal court, she requests a jury trial and seeks damages for her “reputation, career, property and liberty interests.”

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