DJ in Taylor Swift Groping Lawsuit Sanctioned for Destroying Evidence
Former Denver, Colo., radio DJ David Mueller has been sanctioned by a federal judge for destroying pieces of key evidence in his lawsuit vs. Taylor Swift. The two are entangled in a legal battle related to an incident at a 2013 meet and greet, during which Mueller allegedly groped Swift.
The evidence in question is a two-hour audio recording that, per the Denver Post, Mueller "surreptitiously taped" using his cell phone during a conversation with his boss at the radio station KYGO-FM on the day before Mueller was fired on June 4, 2013, due to the alleged meet and greet incident. The recording no longer exists because Mueller either destroyed or lost the phone, as well as a laptop, iPad and computer that each contained a copy of the recording; Mueller had transferred the recording to those devices, and he provided his attorney with pieces of it to help his case, when deliberating.
“He made the decision — inexplicably, in the court’s view — to alter the original evidence and to present his lawyer with only ‘clips’ hand-picked from the underlying evidence,” U.S. District Judge William Martinez writes.
Although the recording no longer exists, opposing counsel will be allowed to question Mueller about it. Judge Martinez ruled that the recording is "critical evidence" in the case between Mueller and Swift because Mueller's former boss, Robert Call, says that Mueller changed his story about the meet and greet incident when asked about it.
Because Mueller admitted to destroying or losing the four electronic devices and acknowledged that the audio recording was important evidence, Judge Martinez decided not to pursue tougher sanctions. Attorneys in the case will not be allowed to discuss Judge Martinez' sanctions in front of the jury, but the jury will be allowed to consider the relevance of Mueller destroying the evidence, except for the pieces provided to his attorney.
“The court takes an even more dim view of plaintiff’s counsel’s unexplained failure to obtain, listen to, preserve and produce the complete audio file," Martinez writes, "but that is a separate issue from whether plaintiff should be sanctioned."
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In September of 2015, Mueller filed a lawsuit against Swift for what he says are unfounded claims that he grabbed her bottom while taking a photo with her at a meet and greet. Mueller says he was unjustly fired from his job as a radio personality for KYGO and also lost prospective business opportunities because of the claims. A month later, Swift filed her own countersuit, saying that Mueller “intentionally reached under her skirt and groped with his hand an intimate part of her body in an inappropriate manner, against her will, and without her permission.”
In late 2016, Swift and her legal team filed a motion requesting that the case against her be dismissed because Mueller’s firing was the result of an internal investigation by KYGO, not any direct action by Swift. However, the former DJ fought back against that motion, calling his firing from the radio station due to the allegation the result of a “sham” investigation.
Also in late 2016, Swift filed a motion to restrict public access to some of the documents involved in her lawsuit, including a photo of the incident, as well as a description of the photograph, 12 pages of summary judgement and hundreds of supporting documents and photos. A judge ruled that the photo will remain sealed, but Swift’s deposition was released.
Most recently, a judge dismissed Mueller's claims of slander and decided to allow the rest of the case to proceed. The trial will begin in early August.
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