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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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Northeast High football player blames doctors after losing leg in on-field injury

Leshawn Williams (photo via Samantha Verdisco | Robinson High)

A high school football player claims negligent hospital staff is the reason doctors were forced to amputate his leg after an on-field injury in 2014.

The player, 20-year-old Leshawn Williams and his mother, Bonita Copeland, 47, are suing John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, along with seven doctors, a physician assistant, the Children’s Orthopedic and Scoliosis Surgery Associates, and Allegiant MD of Florida.

The parties face a combined total of 48 counts.

The suit claims Williams did not receive adequate, timely medical treatment at the two hospitals he was taken to.

Williams was a 17-year-old senior at the time of his injury. He played for the Northeast High School Vikings on the defensive line.

On Oct. 24, 2014, Northeast High School faced Clearwater High in Clearwater. During the first half, Williams overextended his right knee. After feeling a pop, he fell to the ground in pain.

At around 9 p.m., emergency services were called to Clearwater. They transported Williams and his mother to All Children’s Hospital. On the trip, personnel noted a pulse in Williams’ right foot.

At 10 p.m. he arrived at the hospital and was in stable condition.

Dr. Ernest Rehnke operated twice on Leshawn Williams

The first doctor didn’t see Williams until nearly 30 minutes later. The doctor ordered an X-ray and pain medication. It wasn’t until 11:50 p.m. that an orthopedic consult was ordered.

The initial doctor’s shift had ended; he left the hospital without completing necessary procedures to ensure Williams’ proper care.

Williams laid in the hospital bed until around 2:30 a.m., when a physician assistant came in response to the orthopedic consult ordered earlier that night. The new emergency room physician examined the back of his knee. However, a neurovascular assessment hadn’t yet been completed.

Just after 4 a.m., the supervising orthopedist decided to transport Williams across the street to Bayfront. Around 5 a.m. — seven hours after his arrival – Williams was transported via tunnel to the neighboring hospital.

By 8 a.m., Williams was in surgery. It did not go well.

Williams was unable to move his toes. Despite this, no steps were taken at that time to examine his leg further.

An hour later, doctors ordered a CT; medical staff failed to perform the scan until four hours after that.

To save his leg, Williams was returned to surgery at 7:30 p.m. After the completing the procedure, the surgeon did not re-evaluate Williams’ leg, even though nurses reported the absence of a pulse.

Two days after the accident, doctors determined his leg couldn’t be saved; amputation was the only option.

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After $25K, disassembled vintage Disney golf cart now held hostage

After receiving $25,000 to fix a vintage Disney golf cart, the repair shop is holding the now disassembled the vehicle hostage.

Now the repair shop and its owner along with the company that facilitated the transaction and its owner are being sued on seven counts.

Anthony “Tony” Colangelo is listed as CEO and managing member of Villages Golf Cart Man, which repairs and creates custom golf carts. Villages hired Competition 101 Racing to repair and restore a golf cart for a customer.

The companies decided on a price of $25,000 for all repairs including a ‘Custom Designed Rust-Resistant Powdercoated Frame.”

It was agreed that three payments would be made, two for $8,400 and one for $8,200.

The time frame given was six weeks. This was because the golf carts owner planned to enter it into the Halloween parade at Disney World.

The owner of Competition 101 Racing, Stuart Lycett, allegedly mislead Villages Golf Cart Man by giving off the impression that he operated a licensed repair shop. He made it appear he would be handling the restoration, when, in reality, Lectric Limos would be doing the work.

According to sunbiz.org, Lectric Limos – which has been administratively dissolved – had listed Dennis Paul Abbey of Tampa as its president.

In February 2016, the golf cart was delivered; records show either Lectric Limos or Competition took the cart to the location it presently resides.

On Feb. 19, the first payment was made. The second payment was sent on March 25, after an invoice was sent at the beginning of the month. A final invoice was sent the Village Golf Cart Man for a payment of $8,400 plus a $2,500 adjustment charge.

Village Golf Cart Man was never informed of any additional fees, nor did he agree to them. Although no reasoning was given as to why the last charge was $8,400 rather than $8,200, it was found that the $2,500 was charged for powder-coating. Because the powder-coating was already charged in the original agreement, Village Golf Cart Man refused to pay the extra $2,500.

Shortly after, the suit claims the shop disassembled the cart without reason.

On June 1, the final agreed payment of $8,200 was made.

By Aug. 1, Villages Golf Cart Man had sent a letter to the companies demanding either the repair work be completed, or the cart be returned for a refund.

However, three days later, the companies responded by demanding an additional payment of $3,500.

Villages Golf Cart Man obtained a certificate for the release if the cart from the Pinellas County Clerk of Court. When presented with the certificate, the companies still refused to return the cart, according to the suit. The company verbally demanded a storage fee of $8,955.

The Pinellas Park Police Department was called to help Villages Golf Cart Man retain its property. However, they declined to assist due to the cart being in pieces. They could not tell which parts belonged to the cart and which belonged to other projects.

As of Nov. 17, the date of filing, the cart had yet to be returned.

The golf cart is a collectors’ item. It was used at Walt Disney World for the attraction Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.

Villages Golf Cart Man is a vehicle dealer that specializes in custom and specialized golf carts.

 

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Hillsborough Sheriff petitions for cash seized in raid of major meth dealer

Nesbit Andrew Willhite

Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee is petitioning for the nearly $45,000 found during a raid that led to the arrest of a local drug dealer to be kept by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

In the Application for Ex-Parte Order Finding Probable Cause for the Seizure of Property, Gee asks the court to find probable cause that the money was used in violation of the Florida Contraband Act.

In Florida, the application must be filed within 10 days of the seizure, and it must explain the probable cause for the property being seized.

Gee claims the money has become contraband as it is linked to illegal narcotics activity. The money can reportedly be related to trafficking amphetamines and controlled substances, possession of opiates and marijuana with the intent to sell, and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon.

On March 5, 2016, an HCSO deputy encountered a citizen informant who provided intelligence on Nesbit Andrew Willhite, 43, a Plant City resident and owner of Appealing Curbs Landscape Services.

Willhite illegally procured pain pills, which he then distributed along with crystal meth, the informant said.

On Oct. 5, 2016, HCSO personnel met again with a confidential informant who told the sheriff’s office he had purchased ounces of crystal meth from a man later identified as Willhite.

Additional intel was gathered by the sheriff’s office throughout October. An address was obtained by HSCO that was reportedly the base of operations. The informant told officers he could purchase from Willhite again.

In early November, a controlled drug purchase was conducted by the informant and Detective Brent Mayes of the HCSO. The informant was electronically monitored. Ten minutes had passed before the informant returned with the drugs. He notified the department that Willhite had a black bag containing pounds of crystal meth. After using a field testing kit, it confirmed the drugs were methamphetamines.

The next day, Nov. 8, sheriffs headed to the Wilhite’s home in anticipation of a court authorized search warrant. However, when they got there, they met Willhite. At that time, a woman ran from the property carrying a black bag containing crystal meth. The woman was identified as Carol Swilley, 20, Willhite’s girlfriend.

As officers began securing the house, Detective Matthew Moyer noticed a silver box in the home with a $100 bill sticking out.

Moyer then saw an assault-style rifle and ammunition.

Officers read Willhite his Miranda Rights, after which he acknowledged his engagement in the sale of the drugs and admitted the money was from the buying and selling of drugs.

Another detective found a large sum of money inside a box in the oven. The box also contained meth and prescription drugs.

A final count of items seized during the raid included: 3.5 pounds of methamphetamines, 2 lbs. of marijuana, 63 grams of morphine, 7 grams of Oxycodone, 63 grams of Opana (an opioid pain medication), two pistols and an AK-47.

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South Tampa properties in court over shared entry, parking at new ‘Sprouts’ site

Two neighboring south Tampa properties are battling it out over construction and proposed parking spaces at a shared entryway.

The property in dispute is a four-unit strip mall at 1515 S. Dale Mabry Hwy. in Tampa owned by JLR & CER Properties.

WPG-Estrella, an entity created by Tampa developer Wagner Property Group, owns four properties to the south of the strip mall. It plans to develop a shopping center called “The Plaza at Estrella.”

To the west of the properties is a 15-foot passage used as an access point for all properties. The development of the passage dates to 1953.

A Business Journal article from December 2015 said Wagner was “rumored to be working a deal” with Sprouts Farmers Market, an organic grocery chain, to open a location there.

The Tampa Bay Times reported last month that Sprouts is set to open its first Florida store Feb. 22, 2017, at 15110 N. Dale Mabry Hwy.

JLR says WPG illegally blocked JLR’s access to the easement by allowing the parking of construction trailers, vehicles and equipment. Estrella, reportedly, plans to turn the pathway into parking spaces. The site plan shows palm trees bordering the southern end of the path.

Blocking the path would have adverse effects for the strip mall as many patrons use it to access the property.

JLR & CER Properties seeks a court declaration that Estrella must keep the pathway clear.

As of July, the strip mall is home to Brightway Insurance, Tampa Vapor and Signature Tailor.

Estrella was created by developer Wagner Property Group. When the properties were purchased, the suit says the company knew of the passage. WPG-Estrella spent $5 million on the four properties located on the corner of Estrella Street and Dale Mabry Highway.

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Top Florida insurer claims broker sent ‘slanderous’ letters to poach business

Bob Ritchie, founder, president, and CEO of Tampa-based American Integrity Insurance.

Two insurers are going head-to-head in a lawsuit where one claims the other sent slanderous letters to customers in an attempt to take away business.

Tampa-based American Integrity Insurance Company is suing Southern Insurance Group and Tom Johnson, owner of Southern Insurance, in a suit filed Nov. 8, 2016.

Plaintiff Robert “Bob” Ritchie is the CEO and founder of American, which has grown to be one of the largest homeowner insurers in Florida, with more than 200,000 policies outstanding.

Southern Insurance, based in Clermont, was a broker of American Integrity. In July 2016, American Integrity terminated its agreement with Southern Insurance. Court records do not say how many policyholders American Integrity had among Southern Insurance customers, nor why American decided to cease doing business with Southern.

What the suit does say is that Johnson sent letters to former American Integrity policyholders on behalf of his company. They were sent in regards to the termination of the agreement. The letters make defamatory statements about American Integrity. One such claim was that the company’s “losses have far exceeded the company’s ability to stay profitable.” The emails go on to explain that American Integrity had a large rate increase this year and will likely have another next year. The letters offer to start a new policy for the customer with a new company that is an “an Exceptional” carrier.

On June 22, 2016, American Integrity sent Southern Insurance a cease and desist of all defamatory statements. However, the company continued to send out the allegedly defamatory letters to policyholders.

The suit claims that Southern Insurance is still making slanderous statements in regards to American Integrity. American says Johnson’s statements were “false and defamatory,” damaging both American’s reputation and finances.

American Integrity further claims that Southern Insurance misused policyholders’ confidential information.

American Integrity is suing the two parties on five counts and seeks damages for libel and interference of its business relationships. The company is also requesting an injunction that would prohibit Southern Insurance from making any further false statements.

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Temple Terrace landlord says ‘warrantless searches’ in city housing-compliance program unconstitutional

A landlord is suing the City of Temple Terrace over what he claims is an unconstitutional housing compliance program.

Lea Family Partnership owns eight rental properties, seven of which are in Temple Terrace.

In the class action complaint, Lea Family is suing the City of Temple Terrace and Len Valenti, the city’s Housing Compliance Officer.

Lea Family claims the implementation of the Rental Housing Program is a violation of protections under the Fourth, Fifth and 14th Amendments. They claim the program imposes “warrantless” searches of property owners’ homes without probable cause, before the owner can rent them out.

The company is asking the Hillsborough County’s 13th Judicial Court to declare the program unconstitutional.

In 2016 alone, Lea Family paid $1,200 to the city for rental inspection fees. Since the start of the program in 2012, fees have cost Lea Family $3,800 in all.

Len Valenti is responsible for implementing the program. He sends out letters demanding compliance with the program, threatening those who don’t with fines or imprisonment, according to the suit.

In 2001, Temple Terrace enacted the Rental Housing Code, modified in 2012. The new code allows for certain properties to be searched for violations in housing codes as well as other related codes. The turnout of the search can either approve or deny a property for rental.

Despite the decision, property owners are required to pay the minimum $225 per unit on the initial application. Yearly renewal is $200 each.

As of September 2016, Temple Terrace had approximately 2,355 rentals that qualify for inspection. Lea Family is suing on behalf of all property owners affected by this program.

Lea Family is calling to prohibit the city from any more of these “warrantless searches” of its properties under the program, and seek to cease paying “coercive” permit fees.

 

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