Wyoming Judge: Casper Can Stop Preserving Hedquist-Patterson Lawsuit Data
The City of Casper does not need to continue preserving all electronic data earlier required in a lawsuit, a federal judge ruled last week.
U.S. District Court Judge Alan Johnson agreed with the city that preserving the data is costly and does not affect the lawsuit by former city Councilman Craig Hedquist and former City Manager John Patterson.
In the lawsuit filed in February 2014, Hedquist claimed Patterson tried to retaliate against him after criticisms over a land deal with the Boys & Girls Club and the Natrona County School District during the summer of 2012. Patterson then met with city council candidates to try to thwart his election that fall.
The original lawsuit claimed the city violated his constitutional rights by trying to remove him from office without due process, First Amendment retaliation, Fourteenth Amendment -- property deprivation. Hedquist resigned in July 2015.
Since then Hedquist and his attorneys claim the city's campaign against him cost taxpayers more than $800,000 because the city did not accept his Hedquist Construction Inc. as the low bidder. Hedquist later added the city's public services director Andrew Beamer as a defendant.
On April 14, Johnson ruled in favor of the defendants, and Hedquist appealed that ruling to the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on May 2.
In summarizing the city's arguments in his ruling Nov. 1, Johnson wrote Casper wants to stop preserving newly created electronic data because it has spent about $30,000 doing so.
The last allegations of any wrongdoing occurred in August 2015, and the last request for data was served in July 2016, Johnson wrote. "Defendant argues the data preservation is not necessary, unduly burdensome, and costly."
Hedquist and his attorneys responded the city's request was premature because the appeal schedule is almost complete, Johnson wrote
The city responded it still shoulders that burden.
Johnson, citing case law, wrote parties to a lawsuit have the duty to preserve evidence, but that doesn't mean it goes on forever.
He also agreed with the city's claim that the data preservation would find any further relevant evidence, and the cost of preserving it outweighs any benefit.