Jonathan Bilyk Jul. 12, 2016, 3:47pm

The target of a defamation lawsuit brought by members of a large local union has fired back, claiming the president of the Service Employees International Union Local 73 orchestrated a campaign to besmirch him, ordering others to wrongly rifle through his personal emails and other files on his computer and phone and then sharing some of what was found with other members of the union in an effort to justify her desire to remove him from his post within the union.

On July 1, Wayne Lindwall, who serves as assistant to the chief of staff for SEIU Local 73, filed suit in Cook County Circuit Court against Christine Boardman, president of the Chicago-based union local, alleging Boardman’s purported actions violated his privacy and defamed him.

Local 73 represents more than 26,000 workers in northern Illinois and Indiana, including janitors, security guards, maintenance technicians, bus drivers and child care providers, among many others. SEIU is one of the largest unions in the United States with 1.9 million members.

The lawsuit comes about five months after Lindwall was also sued in February by several Local 73 officers, who accused Lindwall of maligning them in emails sent shortly after Boardman initially removed him from his job in early August 2015.

According to court documents, Lindwall and Boardman clashed at that time, when Lindwall “opposed some of … Boardman’s proposed initiatives” at a Local 73 executive board meeting. After those initiatives were purportedly rejected by the Local 73 board, Boardman fired Lindwall “for his opposition to her proposed initiatives,” Lindwall’s lawsuit said.

Lindwall was soon restored to his post.

But court documents said a few days after he had been initially fired, an email was allegedly sent from a Gmail account the other Local 73 officers alleged came from Lindwall to Tonka Bradley, secretary to the SEIU president, in which various Local 73 officers were accused of racism, poor leadership, favoritism, nepotism, incompetence, drunkenness and engaging in illicit sex.

The email also allegedly detailed Lindwall’s accomplishments, and claimed Local 73 officers had conspired to fire him.

The February complaint against Lindwall asserted the email was then received by Boardman, who then purportedly forward the email to the entire Local 73 staff.

In his counteraction, however, Lindwall said the email came from “an unknown author” and Boardman used the email as a pretext to order an unauthorized search of “his personal computer, personal mobile phone and other devices” on Aug. 17, 2015.

Lindwall’s lawsuit said Boardman then “published the personal and private information” found on those devices “to others, including members of SEIU Local 73.”

In the days following that publication, Lindwall said Boardman further “knowingly published falsehoods regarding Mr. Lindwall to others … stating that he had been the author of” the email at the heart of both legal actions. Lindwall’s lawsuit said Boardman also falsely accused him of being “’disgruntled, that he ‘sought retribution’ and that ‘he was unfit to perform his duties in his capacity as Assistant to Chief of Staff.’”

Lindwall has requested the court order Boardman to pay him damages of more than $50,000.

He is represented in the action by attorney Philip Turcy, of the firm of Turcy Chute LLC, of Chicago.

Plaintiffs in the action against Lindwall were represented by attorneys with the firms of  Eckert & Smestad and Montgomery Law Firm, both of Chicago. 

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