Greene case lawyer seeks default judgment against Detroit
The lawyer for the family of a slain stripper who supposedly danced at a rumored party at the Manoogian Mansion says he plans to ask a federal judge to issue a default judgment against the City of Detroit for allowing the destruction of potential evidence in a lawsuit resulting from her death.
The evidence in question: ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s office computer and e-mails he may have sent or received that could shed light on her death.
Birmingham lawyer Norman Yatooma said in court papers Tuesday that he plans to seek a default judgment and other sanctions against the city for failing to preserve evidence for the suit after being asked to do so in February 2008.
A legal expert said it is unlikely U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen will default the city, but he may impose financial sanctions against the city or limitations on its ability to defend itself in the suit.
“That’s the most extreme remedy a judge can grant and it’s uncommon,” said Wayne State University law professor Peter Henning.
Yatooma represents the family of Tamara Greene, 27, who was killed in a drive-by shooting in April 2003, some six months after supposedly dancing at the rumored party. Yatooma has accused Kilpatrick and Detroit cops of sabotaging her murder investigation to prevent her killers from being charged.
Kilpatrick and the city have denied the charges.
Yatooma has repeatedly accused the city of withholding evidence for the suit, prompting denials from city attorney John Schapka.
Schapka wouldn’t comment Tuesday on Yatooma’s request.
During a court hearing Oct. 26, Schapka told federal Magistrate Steven Whalen that the city can’t produce Kilpatrick’s e-mails because the city’s computer system automatically destroys them unless the user manually saves them. He also said Kilpatrick’s computer had been discarded after he resigned in 2008 in the text message scandal.
Whalen said he was troubled by the discovery and directed both sides to file court briefs on the controversy.
Yatooma did not request Kilpatrick’s e-mails until August, five years after the suit was filed.