As of last Friday, the City of Alameda has not filed an opposition response to SunCal’s motion for $1 million in legal sanctions for spoliation of evidence against the City in their federal lawsuit. The case number is 10-cv-05178 in United States District Court, Northern District of California.
Some media outlets had incorrectly reported the motion for sanctions against the City as a “third” or “new” lawsuit filed by SunCal against the City. However, that is not the case. Under their federal lawsuit, SunCal has filed a motion for $1 million in penalties to be levied on the City of Alameda, based in part on developments in their public records lawsuit against the City of Alameda in Alameda County Superior Court. (That case number is RG-10537988)
SunCal asserts that the City’s 30-day retention policy for emails violates California state law that says agencies must retain records for two years. Attorneys for the City of Alameda have said that the City has provided copies of more than twenty-thousand documents, including thousands of emails, to SunCal, under their public records request. The developer sued the City of Alameda, claiming that City officials conspired to terminate their negotiation agreement to redevelop Alameda Point, resulting in a loss of $17 million in pre-development costs associated with the project; 85% of Alameda voters rejected Measure B in February of 2010, a SunCal-sponsored ballot initiative that would have given the go-ahead for their project.
In their motion, attorneys for SunCal write that the federal lawsuit as so far cost $650,000 and that “an additional sanction of $350,000 is warranted as punishment and to deter Defendants’ conduct in the future.”
The motion for sanctions will be considered by Judge Charles Breyer on May 13th. Tomorrow night, in a closed-session meeting, Alameda City Council will confer with the City’s attorneys on both the federal lawsuit, and the local public records act lawsuit.