Kane coroner seeks to have harassment lawsuit dismissed

Updated 10/24/2011 12:36 PM
  • Chuck West

    Chuck West

A judge on Nov. 16 will decide whether to dismiss the harassment lawsuit filed against Kane County Coroner Chuck West.

West, 68, of Elgin, faces felony misconduct charges alleging he took a television/DVD/VCR combo from the home of a dead Carpentersville man in 2007.

A lawsuit filed by Loren Carrera, West's former second in command, accuses him of retaliating against her after she blew the whistle on his alleged wrongdoing.

Patrick Kinnally, who is representing West in the civil case, argued last week before Kane County Judge Robert Spence that Carrera's claims fall short of intentional infliction of emotional distress and that she was still employed in the office.

"There is simply no evidence that plaintiff has been terminated from or forced to leave her position with the coroner's office. Plaintiff's claim for retaliatory discharge is therefore insufficient," Kinnally wrote in his motion.

Kinnally also noted Carrera has not been demoted or seen a cut in pay.

"Plaintiff's only allegation of retaliation are that certain office policies and procedures have changed since July 2010. These changes in policies and procedures, however, apply to all of the coroner's employees and not only the plaintiff," Kinnally wrote.

Nils Von Keudell, who is representing Carrera, disputed Kinnally's argument, writing in court papers that West intentionally urinated on Carrera's office chair and threatened the entire staff in July 2010 when he got word of an investigation.

"Threatening to find out who started the investigation, accusing that person of hating the office in front of other employees, stating (West) will delay prosecution until his elected term is over and calling the acts of the plaintiff a 'hate crime' in front of other employees at a meeting are acts of retaliation," Von Keudell replied in court papers.

Meanwhile, West is due in court again Dec. 7 before Judge Bruce Lester on the criminal case.

A trial date is expected to be set then or later in December. If convicted, West faces up to five years in prison, but probation also is an option.

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