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Suit against former Whitewater detective settled

Mike Heine/The Week

(Published Oct. 24, 2007, 1:15 p.m.)

A Whitewater businessman has settled his harassment lawsuits against a now-retired Whitewater police detective, according to federal court documents.

Stephen D. Cvicker, 52, sued investigator Larry P. Meyer, 61, alleging the veteran detective violated Cvicker's rights and hurt his business by continued harassment, which Cvicker said included wrongful arrests, intimidation of Hispanic employees and improper searches.

Cvicker had once owned a landscaping supply company in the city. He filed suit in U.S. District Court in May 2005, seeking an undisclosed amount.

A federal judge threw out most of Cvicker's claims, saying Meyer was protected by qualified immunity because he was acting appropriately as a police officer.

But the case continued because questions remained over items Meyer was accused of taking and destroying after a search at Cvicker's business, Whitewater Rock and Mulch.

Terms of the settlement agreement, reached Sept. 20, were not available.

Cvicker's attorneys did not immediately respond to The Week.

Attorney Ryan Braithwaite, who represents Meyer, said the two sides still were working on settlement details.

The city, the police department and Meyer still "dispute the substance and form of the plaintiff's claims. This settlement does not contain any admission of liability," Braithwaite said.

Braithwaite did not say why Meyer agreed to settle.

As part of the settlement, Cvicker will not be allowed to re-file any claims brought in his suit once an agreement is finalized and the case is closed, Meyer said.

The city's insurance carrier handled the claim through its attorneys, Whitewater Finance Director Doug Saubert said.

He was unsure of the terms of the settlement but said none of it would cost the city.

"Legal defense is included in the (insurance) policy with no deductible," he said.

Whitewater Police Chief James Coan could not be reached Tuesday.

UW-Whitewater Assistant Professor of Political Science Jolly Emrey said most harassment suits settle because it is the quickest and cheapest. Settling could also save the city embarrassment from what could happen at a jury trial, Emrey said.

Cvicker, according to online court documents, had outstanding tax warrants dating to August 2006 totaling almost $93,000.

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