Jade Isaacs - 4/10 - SaintPetersBlog

Jade Isaacs

‘Free’ Plant City orange grove sparks turf war between family, neighbors

A turf war has broken out over a five-acre orange grove in Plant City.

After her husband, Russell L. Lightsey, died in 2009 at the age of 90, Josephine Lightsey, an 87-year-old Plant City resident, no longer wanted to deal with a 6.5-acre property the couple bought together in 2003.

To avoid paying taxes on the large property, Lightsey split it into two sectors: a 1-acre lot containing her home, the other 5.5 acres containing orange groves.

She gave the property to Edgar and Linda Lariscy at no cost.

In early 2016, Josephine’s son Larry Lightsey, 67, petitioned to be his mother’s guardian and have the court deem her incompetent.

In August, he sued the Lariscy’s on behalf of his mother for illegally obtaining the property. He accused the couple of conspiring to coax Mrs. Lightsey into transferring the property to them and even accused them of forging her signature. Lightsey claimed that his mother suffered from depression following the death of her husband and she lacked the mental capacity to have clear judgment.

However, in a suit filed Nov. 23, the Lariscy’s argue that they made sure Mrs. Lightsey was certain of her choice before moving forward with the deal. Mrs. Lightsey assured Mr. Lariscy that the property was a burden and she did not want it.

Larry Lightsey did not agree, and began telling neighbors the Lariscy’s persuaded Mrs. Lightsey to hand over the property.

They are suing Lightsey for defamation.

The suit filed by the Lariscy’s suggests a neighbor, who is a real estate agent, informed Lightsey he could make “lots of money” off the property.

The Lariscy’s put in money to get the grove up and running. It is now serving as a functioning orange grove.

Mr. Lariscy was both a business associate or the late Mr. Lightsey and the couple’s neighbor.

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Pinellas county clerk sues inmate over filings, harassment

Vincent Williams

Pinellas County Circuit Court Clerk Ken Burke and County Attorney James Bennett are putting an end to the harassment by a Florida prison inmate.

The two are seeking relief over affidavits filed by Vincent Williams, who is currently serving 20 years for attempted murder. Burke and Bennett filed a joint complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief Nov. 18.

In late November, Williams filed three affidavits with the Pinellas County Clerk of the Circuit Court. The first requested Burke to be appointed a trustee for Williams.

The document stated that Burke would have a $50 million liability. The second affidavit ordered Burke to release Williams from custody. The final filling appointed Bennett, State Attorney Bernie McCabe and an employee of Burke as fiduciaries. The last added a $50 million liability to each trustee.

The suit calls these affidavits “fraudulent” and claims that they have no foundation in either law or fact. It also says the affidavits “are self-serving and gratuitous and have no legal force or effect.” All this effort by Williams was an alleged attempt to bypass court orders.

Pinellas County Circuit Court Clerk Ken Burke

The one potential effect of the documents is to adversely affect both Burke and Bennett regarding the acquisition of property in the future.

The two men have no real relationship with Williams.

Burke’s only possible contact with Williams through his official duty as the Pinellas County Clerk of the Circuit Court. Bennett claims to have never had any contact or relation to the convict.

Neither Burke nor Bennett authorized filing the documents.

Unfortunately, the two officials cannot do anything about the records without a court order.

County Attorney James Bennett

After an attempted murder in 2004, Williams was sentenced to 20 years in prison and 10 years probation Aug. 8, 2006. The time is being served at Suwannee Correctional Facility. He is set to be released from jail Oct. 31, 2021.

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Dade City’s Wild Things accuses former employees of spying for PETA, shooting abuse video

Two ex-employees of a local zoo are being sued by the organization after it claims the duo were spies for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

Stearns Zoological Rescue & Rehab Center Inc., known as Dade City’s Wild Things, and executive director Kathryn Stearns, claim that Jenna Jordan and Delena Pennington gave PETA confidential information about the zoo.

PETA allegedly obtained footage and photos from the two ex-employees, although the suit lacks evidence the content was sent by them. The footage and pictures were then used to negatively depict the zoo in a video posted by PETA, which posted on its website an investigative article titled “The Dark, Deadly Side of Tiger Cub Photo Ops: A PETA eyewitness exposé of Florida’s Dade City’s Wild Things prompts lawsuit.”

The suit states that the video contained false statements from an eyewitness and portrayed abusive behavior toward the animals.

The video resulted in threats and angry comments being directed toward Wild Things. Eventually, the zoo had no choice but to briefly shut down its Facebook page.

Both employees signed a nondisclosure agreement before starting their employment with the zoo. The agreement prohibited employees from revealing confidential information, like photos, videos and recordings of protocol and animal care.

On Nov. 4, 2016, Pennington took to Facebook to voice her opinion of the zoo and of Stearns. According to the suit, the post stated that tiger cubs were “stolen from there mothers right after they are born” and “the GoFundMe account for hurricane Hermine was fake.”

Dade City’s Wild Things, a 22-acre “zoo and animal rehabilitation facility” is located at 7237 Meridian Avenue in Dade City. They are regulated by both the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, FWC, and the USDA, United States Department of Agriculture. Wild Things offers visitors a chance to swim with tigers or alligators or have encounters with a variety of animals.

Pennington and Jordan’s employment ended in the summer of 2016, the reasoning for this isn’t stated in the suit.

The zoo claims it was targeted by PETA like many other small zoos in an attempt to shut it down.

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Competitive bicyclist breaks bones after ‘vicious’ dog attack, blames owner

An 83-year-old bicyclist sustained multiple broken bones last year after an unleashed dog chased him down and pulled him off his bike in South Pasadena.

Charles Kleim is now suing the dog’s owner.

On Oct. 14, 2015, Kleim — an accountant who was training as a competitive cyclist — was riding his bicycle through his neighborhood. While passing a home on South Shore Drive, Kleim faced what he called a “vicious” dog, which took off after the bike.

Ultimately, the animal, owned by David Bricketto, 21, grabbed Kleim and pulled him off.

Although the dog managed to pull Kleim down, it did not physically bite him, explaining why records show no dog-bite citation was issued.

Bricketto called 911. By the time police arrived, he had secured the dog.

Kleim was transported to Bayfront Medical in St. Petersburg, where he was treated for a broken collarbone and femur along with lacerations and abrasions. Medical bills totaled $38,000.

Kleim’s attorney, Peter Sartes, told Baylawsuits that Bricketto was in the process of moving out of his late grandmother’s home, and was loading boxes in his car at the time of the attack.

As the dog’s owner, Kleim is suing Bricketto for strict liability and negligence.

The complaint says Bricketto must have known about his dog’s aggressive tendencies. Therefore, he should have had the dog restrained and put up warning signs.

Kleim seeks $120,000 for medical and incidental expenses, as well as for damages for loss of income, impairment of earning ability, and costs for suing.

A competitive cyclist, Kleim placed third in his age group at a bike race in Charlotte County March 20.

Kleim lives on South Shore Drive near the scene of the accident.

 

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Two former Pet Pal employees sue over termination, drug use rumors

Shannon Still

Two terminated Pet Pal Rescue employees are each suing the nonprofit, claiming they were illegally terminated.

Shannon Still began her employment at Pet Pal in early 2013 as Clinic Manager, where she served until her termination June 13, 2016.

Brittany Raisch worked for the rescue from October 2014 to March 10, 2016, as a kennel technician and veterinary assistant.

Both women filed separate suits less than a week apart.

Still is accusing the rescue of one count under Florida’s Private Whistleblower Act. She seeks compensation for damages including humiliation, pain, and suffering along with lost wages, employment status and benefits.

Brittany Raisch

Pet Pal faces two counts from Raisch: defamation and another under Florida’s Private Whistleblower Act. Raisch claims to have suffered humiliation, damage to her reputation, loss of wages and emotional distress.

In February, Pet Pal Executive Director Scott Daly, learned Raisch was pregnant. Raisch’s suit asserts that Daly told Raisch: “You should find another job.” He proceeded to tell Still he couldn’t “deal with another pregnant employee,” referring to Raisch as “worthless.”

The following month, Daly requested a drug test from Raisch, which she took March 10. It came back negative.

According to the suit, the test’s negative results didn’t stop Daly from spreading a rumor among Pet Pal employees that Raisch was using heroin and other narcotics.

Raisch asked Daly if all employees underwent a drug test, accusing him of targeting her because she was pregnant. She was fired that day.

Scott Daly

Daly didn’t provide a reason or cause for the termination. It was assumed by Raisch that her termination had to deal with her pregnancy and inquiry of whether all employees were tested.

Despite persistent requests for the results, Raisch failed to receive a copy of the test for more than a month.

Daly further dug the hole deeper when he falsely reported that Raisch quit after failing a drug test.

During this period, Raisch lost her child. Daly responded by telling Pet Pal employees she did not deserve a baby because of her drug use. While making those claims, Daly was aware Raisch tested negative for all drugs.

In May 2016, Still and Daly interviewed a veterinarian for a position at Pet Pal.

Still searched arrest records online for the interviewee as part of the regular hiring process and found a blemish on the doctor’s record. The unnamed doctor had been arrested for a controlled substance felony. Daly was informed of the record. However, he ignored it and hired the doctor anyways.

The suit states that the unidentified veterinarian and Daly “shared a close friendship.”

A week after being hired, a team member informed Still that the doctor obtained her phone number and was texting her inappropriately. One night, as that team member was taking out the trash, the doctor sexually assaulted and battered her by forcibly kissing her.

Still viewed one of the messages confirming the allegations and sent an email to Daly with the information.

Just five days later, Still was terminated without cause or reason. Still concluded the termination was due to her opposition of the doctor’s illegal behavior.

Pet Pal Rescue is a no-kill animal shelter and clinic for dogs and cats. The clinic is at 1900 34th St. S in St. Petersburg. To help cover funds for the shelter They also operate a thrift store at 1500 34th St. N #8 in St. Petersburg.

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Accused Tampa video voyeur cleared of all charges, record expunged

James Stanton

After detectives found hundreds of videos of women using the restroom on the computer of a Tampa executive, the accused voyeur is out free and back practicing law.

BayLawsuits reports that attorney James Stanton, the ex-chief financial officer and vice president of MaintenX, a maintenance contractor based in Tampa, has been cleared of all charges stemming from his 2014 arrest.

Tampa police expunged the arrest record in the Hillsborough County court system.

Stanton was allegedly caught after slipping up in a YouTube video where he can be seen adjusting the video equipment.

A minimum of five lawsuits arose from the tapes, which had more than 200 videos. Originally, a female employee who was allegedly videotaped in the MaintenX bathroom or shower area filed suit, followed by a least four more “Jane Doe” lawsuits followed.

One suit claimed that the companies IT director informed the executives about the videos years before the arrest, but no action was taken by the company to investigate the allegation.

The employee then went to the police.

However, a MaintenX executive claimed that no one at the company was aware of Stanton’s actions.

Initially, Stanton was set to be charged with 123 counts of video voyeurism, which would have been a third-degree felony. However, the state attorney charged him with 123 counts of a first-degree misdemeanor.

According to the latest filing in the matter, all charges against Stanton were dropped due to the statute of limitations. And as for the public record, it was as if Stanton were never charged at all.

Each of the 123 counts was for the 123 women identified in the videos.

Stanton began recording the women in 2010.

A Tampa Bay Times article published at the time of his arrest reported that Stanton was fired from MaintenX.

MaintenX provides general maintenance for various companies in the Tampa Bay region.

Stanton is currently working at a law firm in Deland and Clearwater.

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Tampa woman claims relaxing massage was anything but

Ashley Meeke

When going to get a massage, one expects relaxation.

Yet, one Tampa Massage Envy Spa patron claims she received just the opposite. Ashley Meeke, 26, is now suing the spa for negligence.

In March 2013, Meeke went to the Massage Envy Spa on Dale Mabry Highway for a 90-minute relaxation massage. After Meeke had previously experienced inflammation after her massages, she requested a medium pressure treatment. After starting the massage, her masseuse informed her there was a knot in her shoulder blade.

The masseuse manipulated Meeke’s body so that the knot could be worked on.

According to the suit, for the next 20 minutes, the masseuse aggressively worked on the knot without changing intensity or moving to a new area. For the remainder of the massage, Meeke received vigorous treatment on her neck, shoulders and head. These methods were not what Meeke anticipated for her relaxation massage.

The next day Meeke had inflammation throughout her back and neck. A throbbing pain grew around the shoulder blade and she suffered from muscle spasms. This pain and discomfort interfered with Meeke’s ability to work and sleep.

To this day, Meeke experiences pain, loss of motion, migraines, TMJ, and other impairments in her neck, back and shoulders.

Meeke’s husband is also suing the spa for being deprived of the love and care from his wife as well as for the medical expenses incurred.

The suit was filed Nov. 15, 2016, more than three years after the massage.

The Massage Envy Spa in question is located at 17673 N. Dale Mabry Hwy, Lutz.

Massage Envy has faced lawsuits in the past for claims of sexual harassment.

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Brandon used-car dealer accuses landlord of fraudulently leasing county land

Al Kadesky

After being coaxed into signing a lease, a used-car dealer found out a portion of the property leased to him was, in fact, owned by Hillsborough County.

The lease stated that the property at 408 N. Parsons Ave. in Brandon would be used as an auto sales lot, but the parcel couldn’t be a functional auto sales lot without the land owned by the county.

Dealer Al Kadesky entered a lease agreement in October 2013 with landlord Blake Tyler, a Brandon resident. The lease included access to an office within the building located on the property, the lot south of the building, and an area behind the building where additional cars to be stored.

The south lot was set to be used with the purpose of displaying cars to the passing traffic. However, shortly after repairing the property, Kadesky was informed by Hillsborough County that Tyler had sold that portion of the property to the county years prior. Train company CSX Transportation owns the lot located south of the vacant land.

Kadesky is suing Tyler on three counts for breach, fraud and fraudulent concealment.

When showing the property to Kadesky, Tyler informed him that the only restricted areas were a manhole that was marked by four poles and an office within the building. Kadesky asked that Tyler repair and improve the property by adding windows to the building and adding lighting to the lot.

Kadesky spent money on securing the property and conditioning it for use. In the suit, Kadesky claims Tyler is refusing to return the deposit. Now, he is spending more funds to take Tyler to court. He seeks damages more than $15,000.

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Police launch investigation into ‘suspicious’ death at Moffitt Cancer

Hermon Biddines

After a medical examiner ruled the death of a cancer patient as “suspicious,” local police have opened an investigation of the death.

Mark Ober, State Attorney of Hillsborough County’s 13th Judicial District, has filed a motion to disclose medical records of Hermon Biddines, 65, who died Nov. 4.

The motion comes after the University of South Florida Police Department opened a criminal investigation into Biddines death.

The motion outlines the grounds for the disclosure.

Biddines was a patient at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, a Tampa nonprofit which treats cancer patients and conducts research.

In the suit, there was suspicion surrounding the circumstances of his death. To investigate the death further, USF police required access to Biddines’ medical records, such as his medical records concerning the diagnosis and treatment and his prescription history from Nov. 1 to Nov. 7, including security footage from interactions with Biddines and Publix Pharmacy staff at Moffitt.

Neither the hospital nor pharmacy obtained permission of disclosure from Biddines before his death.

Biddines left behind Sheila Walker Biddines, his wife of 34 years. Hermon filed for divorce in June 2016, however, at the time of his death, the case was still open.

A hearing was held Nov. 21, five days after the motion was filed. Information on the outcome is pending.

 

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Forgetful employee causes huge fuel spill, environmental damage at towing company, suit says

A fueling company employee on his cellphone while filling a fuel tank is being blamed for creating an oil spill on the property of a local towing company.

In a complaint, filed Oct. 28, Stepp’s Transportation Services, headquartered at 9602 E. Hwy 92 in Tampa, is suing Georgia-based Mansfield Systems for negligence.

In July, Stepp’s 10,000-gallon tank ran out of fuel.

Flector, a fueling company, was to provide fuel to Stepp’s and replenish the tank, ensuring it never runs out of fuel. Flector uses Mansfield Systems as a vendor for Stepp’s.

Mansfield was responsible for providing emergency fueling; however, it couldn’t provide the necessary fuel. The company then subcontracted a third party to complete the process.

The emergency fuel drop was completed that day. Nevertheless, Mansfield dispatched one of its own fuel tanks the next day to fill up Stepp’s tank, forgetting it already sent a subcontractor to do the job.

When the Mansfield employee — a driver unnamed in the suit — arrived at Stepp’s he went directly to the fuel tank to begin fueling. Standard procedure includes checking in at the office and inspecting the tank to determine how much fuel is needed before beginning to fuel.

After inserting the hose, the employee returned to the cab of his truck. The suit claims the employee “was seen operating a personal electronic device” as the fueling continued.

Due to the inattentive employee, fuel began overflowing and pouring out of the vents and inlet of the tank. What is described in the suit as “a large quantity of fuel” spilled onto the property. Court papers did not indicate exactly how much fuel spilled.

Had the employee followed procedures and been aware of the fuel drop the previous day, this incident would have been avoided.

Stepp’s incurred damage to its property and costs to clean up the mess; the company seeks repayment.

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