I resigned from my position as a member of a legal department (within a small local corporation) about 6 months ago. Part of my reason for resigning was that my ex-boss was extremely unprofessional and abusive. His actions and maltreatment of coworkers and direct reports have earned him a bad reputation within the company.
Since that time, my ex-boss has continuously told my former co-workers what a "bad" employee I was and how I incorrectly handled my work. I have a network of former colleagues who have kept me up to date about his ranting statements. While his comments are solely directed at members of my former group and not to others in the company, I still am concerned about my reputation and what he can do to me. Now I heard that he has requested that all of my old emails be restored and he is spending hours upon hours going through my emails, looking for things that I deleted and emails where either myself or my former colleagues may have made comments about him. These comments may have been jokes or snide remarks about excessive absence, cleanliness, lack of kindness, etc.
Should I be worried that my old emails could be used to bring a lawsuit against my coworkers or myself? How do I best protect myself from the malicious statements that are being made about my professional reputation?