Young County sued in whistleblower lawsuit
Former Young County employee Phillip Swan filed a whistleblower lawsuit in 30th District Court in Wichita Falls on March 17, 2017. In the petition, Swan claims he was fired in retaliation for reporting county commissioner Stacy Rogers to the Texas Rangers for using county equipment for personal use. Swan, who worked for the county for six years, was able to file the suit outside of Young County District Court, due to a provision in the Texas Government Code that allows him, as a public employee of a local government, to file suit in any of the 11 counties included in the North Texas Regional Planning Commission.
Flash back over two years ago to early December 2014. A county precinct work crew was clearing a county bar ditch out at Scobee Rd and Taack Rd next to the property of county commissioner Stacey Rogers. The crew was instructed to place the dirt on a washed out terrace on Rogers’ property, where Swan told the Texas Rangers the dirt had likely washed out from.
According to Swan’s complaint filed in court, he reported his supervisor, Rogers, to the Texas Rangers for abuse of office over a year after the event, on February 19, 2016. Informed by a Texas Ranger of the allegation, District Attorney, Dee Peavy, submitted a request on August 8, 2016, for an investigation into any possible criminal activity. By August 25, the Rangers had concluded their preliminary investigation having talked with Swan and another employee about the work done. Later, after being fired, Swan said in a letter to Peavy, that Rogers tampered with the testimony of the other employee by instructing him to say, “that it wasn’t very much work done there at all.” According to an interoffice memo concerning the investigation, both employees gave the same testimony to the Texas Rangers concerning the work done. Both the Rangers and Peavy concluded there was no criminal act committed and so insufficient evidence to open a formal investigation.
Swan claims in the letter to Peavy, that after reporting his supervisor to the Rangers, he had begun to receive a “negative attitude” from Rogers which Swan claims was meant to persuade him to quit. Swan was fired in January 2017. His letter to Peavy resulted in another investigation request by Dee Peavy, who said it is her policy to refer any public integrity complaints to an investigative agency. Again, the Public Integrity Ofice of the Texas Rangers said: “there is insufficient evidence to open a formal investigation into Stacey Rogers.”
Swan is asking for monetary relief over $100,000. The wrongful termination lawsuit is currently in mediation and has been since May. Young County contracts with the Texas Association of Counties for a bulk of services including lawsuits. The county has a $5,000 deductible for general liability lawsuits. After the deductible, the county has no further financial loss for the lawsuit. TAC hired S. Cass Weiland and Robert A. Hawkins with Squire, Patton and Boggs in Dallas to represent the county. In an email to the Enterprise, Weiland said, “We think the claims are completely without merit. Unfortunately, these things sometimes take a long time to unwind.” Swan is represented by Robert E. Goodman, Jr. of Kilgore and Kilgore in Dallas.