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Judge finds Dell in contempt in civil case

June 25, 2009 at 9:45 PM

NEW ORLEANS, June 25 (UPI) -- A judge in New Orleans held computer-maker Dell Inc. in contempt Thursday for doing what she deemed a slipshod search of Michael Dell's e-mails.

Two makers of security cameras are suing Dell, Mayor Ray Nagin, Greg Meffert, the former head of the city technology office, and other defendants. Southern Electronics and Active Solutions say the defendants conspired to steal their technology.

Orleans Parish Civil Judge Rose Ledet found that Dell employees should have used the search terms "cameras" and "public safety" when going through Dell's e-mails, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported. Phil Whitmann, the company's lawyer, said too many irrelevant hits would have come up.

"Dell is in the business of computers, Mr. Whitmann," Ledet said. "How can they not find the documents, how can they not search the e-mails? You're making a mockery of the system here. Read my lips, Dell is in contempt."

The judge ordered Dell to pay the plaintiffs $25,000.

The civil case is related to an ongoing federal investigation into Meffert's operation of the technology office.

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