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

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

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Published by: Mercer Island Reporter on Mar 14, 2011
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05/12/2014

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20
21
222324
252
Bothofthese"wipes"correlated
almostexactly
withhighlysignificantcaseeventsrelatedto
DEFENDANTS'MOTIONTODISMISS
MICHAEL
&
ALEXANDER
PLLCFORSPOLIATIONANDFOR701PikeStreet,Suite1150ADDITIONALSANCTIONS-1Seattle,
Washington
98101
No.COS-lS27JLR(206)442-9696
Case2:08-cv-01827-JLRDocument319Filed03/10/11Page1of14
THEHONORABLEJAMES
L.
ROBART
3
45
6
7
INTHEUNITEDSTATESDISTRICTCOURTFORWESTERNDISTRICTOFWASHINGTON
8
9
)
)No.C08-1827JLR
)
)DEFENDANTS'MOTIONTO)DISMISSFORWILLFUL)SPOLIATIONOFEVIDENCEAND)FORADDITIONALSANCTIONS,)INCLUDINGATTORNEY'SFEES
)
)ORALARGUMENTREQUESTED))NOTEDFORCONSIDERATION:_______________)March25,2011LONDIK.LINDELL,Plaintiff,
10
v.
11
CITYOFMERCERISLAND,etal.,
12
Defendants.
13
14
15
I.INTRODUCTION
16
PlaintiffLondiLindell("Lindell"),orsomeoneactingatherbehest,intentionally
17
destroyedkeyevidencefromherCity-providedlaptopcomputerbytwicesecretly"wiping"its
18
harddrive,beforeshefmallyturnedthelaptopovertotheindependentthird-partyforensic
19
examinerunderthisCourt'sOrder.Specifically,onMarch11,2010,Lindelldownloadedtothecomputerandranasoftwareprogram,"CCleaner,"whichisdesignedtoeliminatethevastmajorityofforensicevidencepresenton
a
computer,includingtheinformationneededtorecoverdeleteddocuments.OnAugust21,2010,LindellranCCleaneronthelaptop
again.
 
25
12
MICHAEL
&
ALEXANDERPLLC
701PikeStreet,Suite1150Seattle,Washington98101(206)442-9696
Case2:08-cv-01827-JLRDocument319Filed
03/10/11
Page2of14
1forensicexaminationofthelaptop.Sincewipingthelaptop,Lindellhasattemptedvirtually
2
everypossibletactictopreventitsexamination,forcingthedefendantstoseekrelieffromthe3Courtonatleastfourseparateoccasions.'Asaresult,notuntilMarch1>2011,diditeven4become
possible
tolearnthatLindellhadtwice"wiped"thelaptop'sharddrive.5Itisnowlessthanfourweeksuntiltrial.BecausetheevidencethatLindelldestroyedis6bothhighlyrelevantandunrecoverable,theonlyjustremedyisdismissalofLindell'sclaims7andentryofdefaultontheCity'scounterclaims.BecauseLindell'smalfeasancealsomaterially8alteredthislitigation,theCityshouldrecoveritscostsandattorney'sfeesfromthedateLindell9shouldhaveprovidedtheinformationshedestroyed-thedateofherfirstdiscoveryresponses.
10II.
FACTUALBACKGROUND
11A.
ThedutytopreserveevidenceunambiguouslyattachestoevidencecontainedontheCity~ownedlaptopwithwhichLindenabsconded.uponIterdiscbarge.Lindellbroughtthislawsuitagainstherformeremployer,theCityofMercerIsland
13
("City"),aswellasfourindividuallynamedCityofficials,onDecember23,2008.Dkt.#1.
14
ThedefendantsappearedandansweredLindell'scomplaintonJanuary22,2009,andFebruary
15
17,2009,respectively.Dkts.##7,10.TheCityalsoassertedtwocounterclaimsagainstLindell
16
basedonheruseanddisseminationofconfidentialinformationanddocumentsthatsheobtained
17
inthecourseofheremployment.Dkt.#10at~~3.1-5.4.
18
OnAugust12,2008,Lindell'sattorneyssentalettertodefensecounsel.Itdescribed
all
19
litigants'dutytopreserveevidence:"Youhavealreadybeenputonnoticeregardingtheclaims
20
inthiscase,andthedutytopreserveandretaindocumentsbeganlongbeforethereceiptofthis
21
22
1
Wehaveverycarefullyanalyzedandconsideredalloftheevidenceandtheinferencesfromitinthesituationthismotionpresents,andareofthebeliefthatLindell'sattorneyswerenotawareoftheirclient'smalfeasanceandwerenotcomplicitinit.
It
isourcurrentopinionthatplaintiff'scounselsimplytookdirectionfromLindell,withoutfullyunderstandingwhytheywereinstructedtofightsovigorouslyandvociferouslyovermaterialsfromthelaptopthatappeared,withoutforensicreview,toconsistlargelyofinsignificantdocuments.
23
DEFENDANTS'MOTIONTODISMISSFORSPOLIATIONANDFORADDITIONALSANCTIONS-
2
No.C08-1827JLR
24
 
7MICHAEL
&
ALEXANDER
PLLC
70]PikeStreet,Suite1150Seattle,Washington98101
(206)442-9696
Case2:08-cv-01827-JLRDocument319Filed03/10/11Page3of14
letter."Ex.AtoDeclarationofThomasP.Holt("HoltDecl.").
It
alsostatedthat"[p]otentially2discoverableevidencespecificallyencompassesallpaperand
electronicdocuments[and]data."
3
Id.
at3(emphasisadded).Finally,Lindellobservedthatthispreservation"includestakingall4reasonablestepstopreventthefullorpartialdestruction,alteration,testing,deletion,shredding,5incineration,wiping,relocation,migration,theft,ormutationofsuchinformation."
Id.
6B.
Thedefendantspropounddiscoveryrequestsexpresslyseekingdiscoverableinformationfromthelaptopcomputer;Lindell
refUSes
torespond.OnSeptember2,2009,theCityserveditsFirstInterrogatoriesandRequestsfor
8
ProductiontoLindell.Ex.BtoHoltDecl.Lindellservedherfirstanswerstotheserequestson
9
October16,2009.Ex.CtoHoltDecl,Shelodgedvaguegeneralobjectionsandproducedno
10
documents.
See
id.;
seealso
Dkt.#38at3-6(defendants'MotiontoCompel).OnJanuary8,
11
2010,counselfortheCityprovidedopposingcounselacomprehensiverecordofLindell's
12
deliberatenon-compliancewithherobligationsunderthediscoveryrules.Ex.DtoHoltDecl.
13
Thiscorrespondenceaddressedthelaptopcomputerandthedataonitindetail.
Id.
at6.
14
CounselalsoaddressedtheissueduringextendeddiscoveryconferencesonJanuary22,26,and
15
27,2010,andagainonFebruary4,2010.Dkt.#39at~15(AlexanderDecl.).OnFebruary4,
16
2010,afterbeingrepeatedlyinformedthatamotiontocompelontheissuewouldbefiledthat
17
day,Lindellservedsupplementalresponses.Ex.EtoHoltDecl.Sheproducednodocuments
18
fromthelaptopinconjunctionwiththem.Rather,sheaverred:"Documentsresponsiveto
19
Defendant'srequestsforproductionfromMs.Lindell'slaptop
willbeproducedormade
20
available/orinspectionandcopying.
fd.
at139(emphasisadded).
21
C.Thedefendantsmove
to
compeldiscoveryofthedatafromthelaptopcomputer.22OnFebruary4,2010,thedefendantsmovedtocompelproductionofthelaptopandthe
23
DEFENDANTS'MOTIONTODISMISSFORSPOLIATIONANDFORADDITIONALSANCTIONS-3No.C08-1827JLR
2425

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