Kemah VFD seeks dismissal from suit against mayor

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Jun. 6, 2011, 2:32pm


GALVESTON - The Kemah Volunteer Fire Department has filed a plea to the jurisdiction in a former chief's lawsuit against it.

According to court papers entered May 11 before the Galveston County 10th District Court, KVFD moves to dismiss Larry Suniga's claim in his wrongful termination suit citing governmental immunity.

The defendant contends "the court must dismiss that claim for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction."

As previously reported, Suniga is suing the fire department because it allegedly fired him over his refusal to falsify inspection certificates for the mayor of Kemah.

He claims Mayor Matthew D. Wiggins Jr. told him to bypass several fire code violations so Wiggins could reopen his business and others following Hurricane Ike.

The mayor questioned the violations found at his bed and breakfast and instructed the plaintiff to overlook them, the original petition filed Oct. 20 in the same court says.

The plaintiff was later fired from the position he held for five years.

KVFD insists it is a governmental unit under the Texas Tort Claims Act, additionally arguing that it is an emergency service organization run by its members and exempt from state taxes.

The plea ultimately states that the defendant did not waive its immunity therefore it cannot be sued under Sabine Pilot.

Schwartz, Junell, Greenberg & Oathout L.L.P. is representing the fire department.

Case No. 10-cv-3997

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