Local Courts Archives - Page 6 of 17 - SaintPetersBlog

Racial hate forces homebuyers to cancel Davis Islands deal, owner refuses refund

A married couple of Indian descent, looking to buy a Davis Islands home last year, canceled the deal after angry neighbors hurled violent racial epithets.

Now the homeowners are refusing to refund a $30K good faith deposit.

Kaderbhai Ali Asgar, also known as Ali Asgar Kaderbhai, is a 52-year-old Tampa resident who works as an engineering intern and secretary for A-One Engineering & Consultants. Asgar’s wife, Sehera Ali Asgar, 49, is A-One’s manager. Herbert Roy “Herb” Donica is a 63-year-old attorney at Donica Law and Donica Mediation Solutions in Tampa, along with his wife, 62-year-old attorney Janice “Jan” Donica. Herb Donica had previously served as president of the Tampa Bay Bankruptcy Bar Association.

In August 2016, the Asgars agreed to buy the Donica’s 2,766-square-foot Davis Islands home for $658,000. The home in question is at 632 Luzon Ave. in Tampa.

Debra Lynn “Debbie” Olson, a 59-year-old Tampa resident, lives with her husband Bruce Harlan Olson in a neighboring 3,278-square-foot home at 631 Luzon Ave.

David Harvey Howard, 58, is the owner of a now-defunct company On Your Own with Help at Home. He purportedly lives nearby at 628 Luzon Ave. in a 3,227-square-foot home owned by attorney Bret Thomas Hamlin.

When the Asgars, joined by two family members wearing “traditional Indian Sari attire,” arrived for a final walk-thru Nov. 4, 2016, a day before the home closing, Debbie Olson allegedly burst into the home, knocked down a Donica family employee, and began yelling the Asgars were “fucking up the neighborhood.”

Olson then left to go to the home of David Howard.

According to the suit filed Jan. 3 in Hillsborough County Circuit Court, Howard then “angrily strode into the front yard” of the Donicas’ home, screaming that the Asgars were not welcome. Howard told Herb Donica he would “break all of your fucking windows” and “burn your fucking house down.”

Howard’s actions — which included calling the couple “fucking ragheads” — caused the Asgar’s young daughter to become “hysterical” and cry.

A Realtor for the Donicas’ called Tampa Police, who filed a report. On the same day as the outburst, records show both Herb and Jan Donica filed repeat-violence complaints against Howard, which the court rejected.

Howard had been in trouble before. In 2010, he was found guilty of misdemeanor battery, and faced a repeat-violence claim by a woman unrelated to the incident with the Asgars.

After the 2016 incident, the Asgars decided to call off the home purchase. The Donicas allegedly refused to refund the $30,000 deposit.

The Asgars are seeking damages because of inducement, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and tortious interference with a contract. They are asking the court to order a return of the $30,000 deposit.

In 2011, Franchising.com reported that the Asgars signed a franchising agreement to open as many as 25 Tasti D-Lite locations over the next 10 years throughout the Tampa Bay area.

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Maximo Elementary principal sued by employee fired after reporting abuse

Lakisha Falana

A principal assigned to improve one of Pinellas County’s infamous “failure factories” is being sued by a co-worker who reported a student assault, and was fired for her trouble.

Lakisha Falana, 42, is principal of Maximo Elementary School, which she took over after the school received three consecutive “F” grades. Falana was previously principal at Tarpon Springs Elementary before she took over the Maximo job in 2014.

Emily Marie Vaultonburg, a 35-year-old St. Petersburg resident, served as a behavior specialist for Maximo Elementary at the time of the incident. According to a 2009 Tampa Bay Times article, Vaultonburg was a teacher at Woodlawn Elementary until 2008.

In 2015, Falana – along with principals of five other schools identified by the Tampa Bay Times as ‘failure factories” – met with several local African-American leaders.

As part of the effort to improve the struggling Maximo Elementary, Falana partnered with the CEO of architectural firm Harvard Jolly in 2016 as part of the Pinellas County School District’s Executive PASS program, which pairs business leaders with school principals to help improve school and student performance.

By August 2016, Falana’s efforts led to Maximo improving by at least two grade letters.

Despite Falana’s impressive record, Vaultonburg says she was at Maximo Elementary September 27, 2016, when she “heard an adult physically assaulting a student with a belt in the school bathroom.” The adult was the boy’s uncle.

Vaultonburg told Falana she believed alleged assault should be reported to the Florida Department of Children and Families. Falana allegedly disagreed, accusing Vaultonburg of being “too emotional.”

Nevertheless, Vaultonburg reported the incident; and was fired later the same day.

On Jan. 5, Vaultonburg filed suit in Pinellas County’s Sixth Judicial Circuit Court against Falana — and, by default, the Pinellas County School Board — for illegal retaliation.

Vaultonburg says she also told assistant principal Tekoa Moses about the bathroom beating.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, a spokesperson for the school district explains Vaultonburg’s dismissal was not related to the reported child abuse. In an email, Lisa Wolf said the termination was for “performance issues that occurred prior to the date of her dismissal.”

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Tampa recycler blames firm for mislabeling 4 million lbs. of medical waste

A Tampa recycler is accusing a waste disposal company of mislabeling millions of pounds of medical waste – including bloody bandages and fluid bags – leading it to be incorrectly treated as recyclables.

Stericycle is an Illinois-based medical waste disposal company operating in 23 countries with revenues of $2.655-billion for fiscal year 2016.

A&M Metals is a scrap yard and recycling facility located at 4902 S. 50th St. In Tampa. Alexander Gregory and Larry Gregory are listed as managing member and authorized member, respectively. Scrap King is A&M’s sister company, which also operates a recycling facility at 5002 Dover St. In Tampa. Alexander Gregory and Larry Gregory are also president and authorized member, respectively.

In 2013, Scrap King signed a two-year contract to process “recyclable materials” from a Stericycle facility at 4245 Maine Ave in Lakeland. The contract specifically prohibited “regulated medical waste.”

A&M later discovered that “recyclable materials” brought to its scrap yard included “bloody bandages, used sharps, used medicine containers, used needles, used batteries, waste containers and red bags full of fluids, numerous bottles with residue of pharmaceuticals, including included narcotics in excess of the 3 percent limit that would trigger a special category of waste handling, and other infectious, disease-carrying materials.”

Before learning of the allegedly fraudulent mislabeling, A&M officials estimate it illegally processed roughly 4-million pounds of medical waste, resulting in an investigation by both the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Hillsborough County health department for regulatory violations.

The lawsuit, filed by A&M January 9 in Hillsborough County’s 13th Judicial Circuit Court, accuses Stericycle of fraud, leading to a “loss of business reputation and customer base, pollution and contamination of the property, cost of remediation and regulatory compliance, loss of profits, and costs incurred in preparing to recycle the metal.”

The Stericycle website – with the tagline “We Protect What Matters” – says this about hazardous waste: “As the leading provider of medical waste disposal services, protecting people and the environment from the risks associated with biohazards is at the heart of what we do. Hundreds of thousands of customers trust Stericycle to manage their biohazardous waste disposal.”

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Steak N Shake blamed for rape of co-worker, ignoring abundant ‘red flags’

Raheem Bell

A Steak N Shake employee raped by a co-worker in 2013 is suing her employer for failing to act, despite several warnings of the attacker’s behavior.

In early 2013, police arrested Largo resident Raheem Willis Bell, then 21, for forcibly removing the pants of a 17-year-old girl and raping her Jan. 11 behind the Target store at 4450 Park St. N in St. Petersburg.

According to a Seminole Beacon article on the rape, Bell had a prior arrest in March 2012 for lewd and lascivious battery on a female under age 16. At that time, he entered a guilty plea and was sentenced to 18 months’ probation.

A condition of the probation was that Department of Corrections must confirm Bell’s employment status by directly contacting his employer. At the time, Bell worked for Steak N Shake at 10555 Ulmerton Road in Largo. A month after the 2012 incident, Steak N Shake allegedly transferred Bell to the St. Petersburg location on 4480 Park St., rather than fire him.

Of the 2013 rape charge, Bell was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison. Now 25, Bell is a registered sex offender.

A lawsuit filed by the anonymous victim Jan. 4, 2017, in Pinellas County Sixth Judicial Circuit Court says Bell and “Jane Doe” were co-workers at the St. Petersburg Steak N Shake. The two were on break at the time the rape occurred.

Before his time at the Steak N Shake restaurant in St. Petersburg, Bell was also targeted with sexual harassment complaints from female co-workers. Soon after, Doe and other female co-workers began to complain to management that Bell was sexually harassing them. The suit argues Steak N Shake should have fired Bell long before the incident.

However, the suit says nothing was done.

Now, Doe is seeking damages for negligent retention, assault and battery.

Steak N Shake is a subsidiary of Biglari Holdings, a public-traded company based in San Antonio, Texas. Other Biglari properties include Maxim magazine and Western Sizzlin, a chain of buffet restaurants.

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Ex-NFL star sues Lutz bar over son’s drunk driving death

Brian Holloway

Ex-football star Brian Holloway is suing a Lutz bar for the wrongful death of his son.

Holloway and Bette McKenzie, parents of Max Holloway, 26 when he died last year, claim that Panini’s Bar and Grill in Lutz knew Max was an alcoholic.

Per Florida law, when someone knowingly serves a habitual drinker alcohol, they could be held liable for injuries or damages caused by the drunken person

Max was a regular at Panini’s.

On Oct. 26, 2016, he spent hours drinking at the bar, chatting with the staff until 2:30 the following morning. Max left in his car after a long night of drinking.

Roughly 200 feet away from his condo, he lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a nearby home on Lutz’s Lake Fern Road. He was killed in the crash.

The parents seek damages for funeral and burial costs, loss of support and companionship, and mental pain and suffering.

Holloway posted to Facebook two days after his son’s death to announce the day and time of the funeral service. In the post, Holloway wrote as though he were Max, it read, “Wow! this place is amazing! Heaven! The skies are the bluest you’ve ever seen and the air is crisp, and my allergies; are gone!”

The Panini’s Bar and Grill in question is located at 3973 Van Dyke Road in Lutz.

Brian Holloway played NFL offensive tackle for the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Raiders from 1981 to 1988. Max played football for the Tampa Bay Storm and Boston College. He was a P.E. instructor at his alma mater, Jefferson High School.

No others were harmed in the accident.

 

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Florida demands Largo anti-bullying nonprofit to stop fundraising

A Largo anti-bullying nonprofit is under fire by the state of Florida, demanding it stops fundraising after its solicitation license lapsed.

On the Gulf Coast Giving website, the charity — incorporated in 2009 by Nick Foley of Largo – had said its “main mission is to provide underserved schools and nonprofits with updated technology and training to maximize their efforts; and to provide cyberbullying awareness, prevention and intervention programs to secure a brighter future for our community’s youth.” Gulf Coast promises to donate a portion of its fundraising proceeds to groups such as Habitat for Humanity, the Clearwater Seaquarium, Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary, Cornerstone Campus Ministry and others.

 As recently as last week, however, the website still included a ‘Donate Now’ button and a ‘Giving’ menu selection. On Monday, the website has been taken down.

As of Sept. 23, 2016, the Florida Division of Corporations had dissolved Gulf Coast Giving for failing to file an annual report. Charities in Florida cannot solicit funds unless registered with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. In the 2015 report, Gulf Coast listed three directors and/or officers: Foley, Anthony Foley and Paul J. Burns. Jessica Moody-Shafer is listed as operations manager.

Gulf Coast, located at 12597 Walsingham Rd #2 in Largo, claims it had established a partnership with the City of St. Petersburg and Mayor Rick Kriseman to screen the documentary “Bully” and host a discussion about bullying. Allegedly attached to the event were boxer Winky Wright, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, and St. Petersburg Police Chief Tony Holloway.

In a 2013 article in the Tampa Bay Times, Gulf Coast – described as a group that “promotes volunteer work” – organized a bully-awareness week at local schools.

However, after Gulf Coast Giving allowed its registration to lapse, FDACS filed a complaint about illegally soliciting contributions. In an order issued Aug. 16, the department demanded Gulf Coast to stop seeking donations and pay a $500 fine. A lawsuit filed by the state in Pinellas County Circuit Court Jan. 5 says the Gulf Coast has done neither and is asking the court to intervene.

The home page of Gulf Coast Giving. As of 1/11/2017, the website still included a ‘Donate Now’ button. Image courtesy of BayLawsuits.com
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tourism

For-profit ‘Florida Tourism Bureau’ sued over $15K defaulted loan

A newly formed business called “Florida Tourism Bureau” is facing court action by a creditor who fronted several thousand in startup costs.

The Clearwater company — founded June 2016 by Tim Gahagen and Richard Dawes — is somewhat unusual in that tourism bureaus are traditionally quasi-governmental entities and not outright for-profit businesses.

John Edward Eder, a 55-year-old Margate resident, loaned Gahagen and Dawes $15,000 just one week after the Florida Tourism Bureau was incorporated. The Bureau is located at 300 S. Duncan Ave., Suite 164-A in Clearwater.

The pair promised to pay Eder back within six months, in monthly installments. Filings show that the money was a “friendly” loan, since the agreement shows Eder would not charge the two any interest.

Nevertheless, Eder argues that neither defendant paid back a dime of the loan. He is now seeking relief from the court, filing a suit Dec. 30 in the Sixth Judicial Circuit Court for Pinellas County.

State records show this was not Gahagen’s first foray into the tourism industry.

In 2013, Gahagen founded the Florida Travel and Tourism Bureau, as well as the Florida Tourism Council in 2007. And in 2003, Gahagen incorporated the Orlando Central Tourist Bureau. A cursory search by Baylawsuits.com finds no “meaningful information” about any of the Gahagen companies created over the past two years.

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Swimmer sues Brandon L.A. Fitness after chlorine gas mishap in pool

During a morning swim at a Brandon LA Fitness, two patrons were harmed when poisonous chlorine gas was discharged into the pool.

Around 6:20 a.m. Dec. 14, 2015, William Cordova was in the pool when the gas began coming out of the pool jets. The gas came without warning, he says.

Cordova claims to have suffered serious injuries in his eyes, skin, respiratory passages, lungs and ears.

The gas was described as a “yellow-colored substance,” presumably chlorine gas. Hillsborough fire crews responded to the incident.

Cordova is now suing the Irvine, California-based LA Fitness, and the pool maintenance company, Sharper Image Pools of Tampa, for negligence. Because he was subjected to dangerous conditions, he is seeking damages more than $15,000 for hospitalization, medical costs, loss of earnings, and loss of ability to earn money.

LA Fitness and Sharper Image, allegedly, planned, controlled and maintained the pool. The gym owed its patrons a duty to protect them from dangerous conditions.

The LA Fitness in question is located at 2890 Providence Lakes Blvd. in Brandon.

According to iClubs.com, two similar incidents occurred in Georgia and Connecticut.

News Channel 8 reported: “Two people were transported to a hospital after too much chlorine was put in a pool at the Brandon LA Fitness health club …”

 

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Slip & fall specialist gives Blue Martini a goodbye gift — a slip & fall lawsuit

The owner of a clinic specializing in slip and fall cases is suing the soon-to-close Blue Martini in International Plaza — in a slip and fall case.

The victim, Elizabeth Salvia-Rodriguez, is seeking damages from the restaurant, as well as Taubman Company LLC, a Michigan-based firm doing business as International Plaza and Bay Street.

Salvia-Rodriguez, a 52-year-old Cuba native, is president and owner of Bayview Medical & Rehab. Bayview, with locations in Tampa and Brandon, is a family practice specializing in several areas, including slips and falls, chiropractic care, auto accidents and personal injuries.

In December 2015, Salvia-Rodriguez was at Blue Martini in International Plaza. Around 1:30 a.m., she slipped while walking on an uneven surface while exiting the bar. According to the suit, she sustained many injuries, including “significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement … injuries to her head, face, jaws, neck, back, spine, arms, legs, nerves, muscles, ligaments, tendons, joints, soft tissues and body as a whole.”

Blue Martini, an upscale bar and restaurant, is set to close Saturday. Although the restaurant was open in the International Plaza for 15 years, disagreements with lease negotiations forced the establishment to close and will be replaced by Rocco’s Tacos & Tequila Bar, a South Florida chain.

Salvia-Rodriguez was arrested in 2006 on a felony charge for filing a fraudulent insurance claim. A pretrial intervention program allowed the charges to be dropped.

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Tampa Realtor president sues neighbor for access to ‘landlocked’ property

Andrew Scaglione

The owner of a landlocked private property in Tampa is suing his neighbor to create an easement allowing access to the land.

ANMF, managed by Andrew Scaglione, is suing neighbor, Henry Robertson Jr., on two counts “to establish an Implied Way of Necessity” and “to establish a statutory way of necessity.”

The company owns a five-acre parcel located in Millan de Avila, an exclusive Tampa neighborhood.

According to the suit, filed December 14 in Hillsborough County’s 13th Circuit Court, ANMF suggests the only practical access point to the land is through Robertson’s property. The property cannot be used to its full potential without such access.

ANMF seeks for a 38-foot wide easement to be established, offering to pay $100 as compensation for the use of the roadway.

A diagram attached to the suit outlines the property owned by ANMF. It depicts the property to be surrounded by cement walls to the north and west as well as a wooded wetland just west of the property. South of the property is where Robertson’s land is located. An easement currently stretches from Indian Head Drive to the end of Robertson’s property.

The land was previously owned by Robertson before losing it to foreclosure. Two years after that, ANMF purchased the land.

Scaglione, 55, also serves as president of the Greater Tampa Association of Realtors, a nonprofit association representing more than 9,000 real estate professionals. He also is a board member of USAmeriBank, a director and former chair of the Tampa Sports Authority, and the owner of Empire Commercial Realty Service.

Scaglione lives in Avila, directly north of ANMF’s property.

The diagram suggests a possible access to the property could be obtained via Scaglione’s property. However, it also appears to show a cement wall separating the two properties.

Image courtesy of BayLawsuits.com

 

Enhanced map with the home of Andrew Scaglione in green. Image courtesy of BayLawsuits.com
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