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Whitewater to pay more than $100,000 to settle civil rights lawsuit

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Ted Sullivan
September 11, 2008
— The city of Whitewater will pay a former businessman $115,000 to dismiss his civil rights lawsuit against a retired Whitewater police detective he accused of wrongful arrests, improper searches and harassment of his Latino employees.

The city will pay Stephen D. Cvicker, 56, former owner of Whitewater Rock and Mulch, to settle his May 2005 lawsuit against former police detective Larry P. Meyer, 61, according to the settlement agreement.


“The case was never about money, it was about admissions,” Cvicker said. “I wanted the admissions of the wrongdoing they did.


“My interest in this whole lawsuit was to expose” them.


Cvicker said the money he’ll receive from the settlement is nothing compared to the cost of having to close his business and put people out of work.


The city didn’t admit to any wrongdoing or liability in the settlement agreement.


Ryan Braithwaite, the attorney for the city of Whitewater, said the city settled the lawsuit to avoid a trial.


“The city got the lawsuit dismissed, and the insurance company doesn’t have to pay for a trial,” Braithwaite said. “The city doesn’t think that anything was done wrong.”


Attorneys on both sides initially refused to disclose the settlement amount, claiming it was confidential.


The Janesville Gazette obtained the settlement agreement, which was signed in August, after filing a request under the Wisconsin Open Records law.


The lawsuit stemmed from Whitewater police investigating Cvicker’s employees for allegations of identity theft, according to court records and a 2005 search warrant.


Cvicker claimed that the detective wrongfully destroyed some of his personal belongings taken outside the scope of the search of his business, according to court records.


Attorneys will ask the judge to dismiss the lawsuit in federal court this week, Braithwaite said.


Both sides will be responsible for their own attorney fees, according to the settlement agreement.


The city’s insurance carrier will pay the settlement, city manager Kevin Brunner said after the settlement was reached, and taxpayers will not foot the bill.


Cvicker previously had been offered up to $82,500 to drop his lawsuit, according to court records.


Cvicker and Meyer had a history.


Cvicker was convicted in March 2004 of hiring someone to burn his rental property to collect insurance money.


He later appealed, claiming Meyer and other detectives withheld evidence from his defense attorneys.


Meyer also was at the center of the August 2006 raid at Star Packaging when federal agents detained 25 suspected illegal immigrants as part of an investigation into alleged identity theft.


Cvicker’s lawsuit and the raid led to tension between Whitewater police and Latinos.



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