Kemah mayor claims immunity in fireman's wrongful termination suit

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Sep. 26, 2011, 5:45am

GALVESTON - Kemah Mayor Matthew D. Wiggins has entered an amended answer to a former Kemah Volunteer Fire Department Chief's wrongful termination lawsuit.

The mayor's second response, which is four pages long, was filed Sept. 8 before the Galveston County 10th District Court.

Wiggins joins KVFD in Larry Suniga's lawsuit over the plaintiff's dismissal in October 2010.

Suniga claims he was fired because he refused to honor the mayor's requests to overlook fire code violations incurred by several of his business establishments.

Wiggins allegedly questioned the post-Hurricane Ike violations and instructed Suniga to falsify inspection certificates so the businesses could reopen, according to the plaintiff's original petition filed Oct. 20, 2010.

The suit asserts Wiggins "advised that he did not think that the city of Kemah needed a fire code and that he would simply abolish it."

According to the lawsuit, the Kemah City Council voted to award Suniga overtime pay for his work following Ike, only to stop him from taking the funds.

Suniga adds he was asked to sign a promissory note to repay the compensation he had received, stating the note was an act of retaliation for his refusal to circumvent the fire code.

The mayor entered his original answer on Aug. 2.

Wiggins insists he is immune from the suit and any connecting liability. He argues his conduct was justified and Suniga's own acts contributed to his firing.

Galveston County 10th District Court Judge David Garner ruled in favor of the plaintiff's unopposed motion for continuance on Aug. 31.

Jackson Lewis LLP is representing Wiggins.

Case No. 10-cv-3997

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