Greene family attorney opposes efforts to throw out civil litigation

Detroit — The family of a slain exotic dancer was expected to file under seal late Wednesday a brief opposing efforts to dismiss a civil lawsuit alleging the city and ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick quashed an investigation into her death.

The brief must be filed under seal, but family lawyer Norman Yatooma said he would ask a federal judge to unseal it because the city’s motion to dismiss was accidentally and briefly posted on the court’s computerized docket in September.

“This is simply the biggest filing in the case,” Yatooma said in an interview.

“The court’s ruling will determine whether Tammy Greene’s kids go to the court of appeals or they go to trial.”

The filing came almost 24 hours after Yatooma requested a default judgment against the city for intentionally throwing away Kilpatrick’s computer.

The request, filed late Tuesday in U.S. District Court, alternatively asks a federal judge to approve a comprehensive search of the city’s computer servers and back-up equipment to find deleted e-mails and other data — and have the city cover the expense.

The request also says the city should pay a hefty fine for dumping the computers of Kilpatrick and his former mistress and Chief of Staff Christine Beatty in February 2008 — seven months before Kilpatrick was forced from office.

Computer e-mails and other documents, if found, could prove far more damaging than the steamy, but brief, text messages that derailed Kilpatrick’s career and helped send him to prison, Yatooma wrote.

The recovered data could prove Kilpatrick and the city conspired to block an investigation into Greene’s drive-by shooting death in April 2003, several months after she was linked to a rumored but never proven party at the mayor’s mansion in fall 2002.

“If the text messages brought down the king, the e-mails would have brought down the kingdom,” Yatooma wrote.

“Imagine the damage that Kilpatrick and his upper echelon could have done with the benefit of a keyboard and unlimited capacity for their criminal correspondence.”

He argued that the computers and data should have been preserved by city officials, considering there were several lawsuits against Kilpatrick.

The requests were filed ahead of a deadline today by which Yatooma must respond to requests by the city and Kilpatrick for summary judgment in a lawsuit filed by the woman’s family five years ago.

City lawyer John Schapka has two weeks to respond to Yatooma’s requests.

U.S. Magistrate Judge R. Steven Whalen then will decide whether to issue sanctions against the city for destroying the computers.

Whalen said last month that he was “troubled” that the city computers had been thrown away.

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