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updated: 7/17/2012 10:21 PM

Whistleblower lawsuit to proceed against West's estate, county

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Although Kane County Coroner Chuck West has died, a lawsuit filed by his former second-in-command will proceed.

The attorney for Acting Coroner Loren Carrera said Tuesday that Kane County and West's estate will be added as defendants in the lawsuit, in which she accuses West of retaliating against her for alerting authorities that West allegedly allowed a television to be stolen from the home of a dead Carpentersville man in 2007.

"It's just a matter of renaming the parties as defendants. The civil case continues," said Carrera's attorney Nils von Keudell after a brief court hearing. "The facts are the facts alleged in the complaint."

West, who died July 4 after a liver transplant, eventually was indicted on felony misconduct charges that carried a punishment of anywhere from probation to five years in prison if he was convicted. A trial date was never set and the case is expected to be officially closed in early August.

Carrera filed a lawsuit against West in spring 2011, arguing he violated the Illinois Whistleblower Act by harassing her after the investigation against him started and slowly giving her duties to Deputy Coroners Lisa Gilbert and Eric West, who is West's son.

In June 2007, items such as costume jewelry, a coat, a mannequin head and a beer stein from the home of a dead Carpentersville man were left on a lunch table for about a week at the coroner's office as West unsuccessfully tried to give them away to his subordinates, according to the lawsuit.

But one item -- a television -- was loaded into the coroner's van by deputy coroners Eric West and Gilbert directly into Gilbert's car, Carrera's suit states.

The lawsuit also accused Chuck West of yelling at Carrera in a menacing matter, threatening to find out who was talking with investigators, and urinating on Carrera's chair.

Carrera, who has served as acting coroner since February when West went on medical leave, seeks damages in excess if $50,000, back pay with interest, and attorney fees.

Von Keudell said that Chuck West had not given a deposition in the case before he died, but that won't derail the lawsuit.

"It adds difficulty. It doesn't defeat the case," von Keudell said. "(Carrera) wants a proper resolution for the case. She worked with Chuck for many years. She was certainly saddened by his death. There's no ill feeling toward Chuck at all."

The matter is due in court again Sept. 5.

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