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.