NASHVILLE TN JAN 6 2008
The legal fur is flying over the theft of two laptop computers from the Davidson County Election Commission containing 337,000 Metro voters’ Social Security numbers.
The city’s legal department sent a demand letter to Metro security contractor The Wackenhut Corporation’s Nashville office Friday seeking at least $100,000 for damages caused by a Christmas Eve burglary of the election commission and subsequent theft of the laptops.
In addition, a local law firm with some recent ties to Metro politics filed a lawsuit late Friday on behalf of three voters over the laptop theft.Metro Director of Law Sue Cain’s letter to Wackenhut – an international security firm – stating the company’s contract with Metro calls for Wackenhut to “indemnify and and hold harmless Metro” for any damages related to negligence on the company’s part.
In a hearing with Metro Council members this week over the laptop theft, Department of General Services Director Nancy Whittemore said a security guard was on-site at the time of the break-in, but admitted to not doing his job and spent the time listening to Christmas music. The unnamed guard has since been terminated from Specialized Security Consultants, Inc., the Mt. Juliet-based subcontractors of Metro’s security provider Wackenhut, according to Whittemore.“At the time of the break-in and theft, we have been advised that your security guard breached his responsibilities and was negligent in the performance of his duties,” Cain’s letter states. “The damages incurred by the Metropolitan Government as a result of that break-in and theft were the result of the negligent acts and omissions of your guard.”In statements prior to the hearing, election commission officials admitted the two laptops had been left out in the office contrary to Election Commission protocol that they should be stored in a secured, locked space.
In addition, Metro officials admitted security cameras were not plugged into a digital recording device at the time of the break-in.Metro, Wackenhut and Specialized Security Consultants all became the target of litigation late Friday over the laptop thefts and the possible harm that could come to Metro voters should their personal information fall into the wrong hands.Three Davidson County voters – including former Oak Hill Mayor Raymond T. Throckmorton III – filed suit in Circuit Court demanding the parties take steps to protect Metro’s 337,000 registered voters from any harm that could come to their credit ratings.
In addition to seeking Class action status for the 337,000 voters, the suit demands Metro procure multiple credit reports for each voter and “hold harmless each voter whose personal information has been compromised.”The suit also lodged additional allegations about the night of the break-in, including statements the guard ordered food and visited a break room.The suit was brought by attorneys John Ray Clemmons and Gary Blackburn. Both men were advisors to former Congressman Bob Clement’s unsuccessful campaign for mayor against Mayor Karl Dean.
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