San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

November 13th, 2009
Former Kyle firefighter lands settlement

by SEAN KIMMONS

A former Kyle Fire Department firefighter has received a cash settlement in his lawsuit alleging wrongful termination earlier this year.

Jacob Haverda, who currently works at the Buda Fire Department, was fired by Kyle’s Fire Chief Glenn Whitaker in January for disobeying prohibited conduct and confidentiality rules. In June, Haverda filed a lawsuit against Whitaker and his department, claiming that the rules were “unconstitutional.”

Both parties settled in late July and Haverda was paid $20,190 in mid-August, Toni Hunter, his lawyer, said last week.

“I think a settlement was good for all the parties,” she said. “I didn’t think anybody wanted to mess with this for too long.”

Despite numerous attempts, Haverda could not be reached for comment.

Whitaker and his department split the cost of the settlement, with insurance covering some of it, Whitaker said.

“I’m definitely glad it’s over,” he said.

In October 2008, Haverda, who at the time was a lieutenant in Kyle’s department, responded to a query by Hays County Fire Marshal Mark Chambers, who was investigating assistant fire marshal Bo Montague for alleged misuse of county resources.

In response, Whitaker opened an internal investigation on Haverda for speaking out about Montague, who was also a volunteer firefighter in Kyle’s department. Montague is no longer the county’s assistant fire marshal.

The investigation handed Haverda a demotion, six-month probation and the status of “not in good standing.”

A second investigation was then initiated after Haverda allegedly made disparaging comments about the department and its command staff. The investigation recommended Haverda’s termination, which Whitaker did on Jan. 28.

Haverda’s lawsuit claimed that his termination was based on retaliation and sought damages to include loss of income and benefits, tarnished reputation and emotional distress.

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