By RUSSELL HUFFMAN
STEPHENVILLE (November 24, 2015) — A former city building inspector has filed a lawsuit against the city of Stephenville alleging she was fired after revealing city employees were improperly issuing building permits.
Joe Ann Everett’s original petition with discovery was filed last week in the 266th District Court by attorney Scott Osman under jurisdiction of the Texas Whistleblower Act. The petition alleges Everett was terminated after reporting misdoing through official city channels to include police investigators.
The petition alleges Everett reported what she believed to be illegal activity to Stephenville Police Chief Jason King and Lieutenant Doug McClammy during a recorded interview.
During that interview, Everett claims she reported Stephenville’s Planning and Building Services Director Judy Horn Miller and building inspector Tom Heap were breaking the law by improperly issuing city permits.
The Flash Today readers may remember a six-part series from earlier this year revealing numerous violations within Stephenville’s planning and building services.
The petition contains allegations Miller and Heap issued permits without proper drainage studies and assessments being performed. Still further, both were allowing work to be done that had not been properly permitted.
According to the petition, Everett had discussions with Chief King on July 29, 2015, regarding her concerns with Stephenville’s Planning and Building Services Department and, particularly, about Miller and Heap.
Everett claims she attended a meeting at the Stephenville Police Department the following day for the purpose of a “formal internal administrative investigation” interview with Chief King and Lieutenant Doug McClammy. Everett’s petition claims the meeting lasted almost two hours and video was recorded.
Additionally, Everett claims she was instructed not to discuss the investigation with anyone other than Chief King, Lieutenant McClammy and Pat Bridges, Stephenville’s City Administrator, and she even signed documentation to that effect.
Everett was terminated from employment on August 20, 2015, and the petition alleges the firing was in retaliation for her report and would not have occurred, but for the report.
The petition seeks relief of more than $100,000, but less than $200,000, with an option to raise the limit. In the damages section, Everett is asking for her job back, the removal of all documents related to her termination from her personnel file, for actual damages and court costs, compensation for lost wages, reinstatement of fringe benefits and seniority rights lost because of termination.
There is also a demand for compensatory damages in the maximum amount provided by law and the reasonable recovery of attorney fees.
Osman was in court in Hamilton and unavailable for comment as of 3 p.m. on Wednesday, November 24. Stephenville City Secretary Cindy Stafford was named as a person who could be served with the petition, along with Mayor Kenny Weldon. Stafford confirmed the city was in receipt of the petition and also declined comment.
A recently agreed upon procedures engagement showed the city’s planning and building services department to be in shambles when it came to the documentation of inspections, signatures and more.
Miller was let go by the city through a mutual agreement in early August and Heap later resigned.