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Bayshore motorcycle crash victim blames poorly maintained city-owned sprinklers

Corey Rikard was riding a motorcycle on Tampa’s Bayshore Boulevard last year, when the bike slipped on a puddle and crashed, leaving him in a coma for several days.

Rikard is now suing the city of Tampa, blaming improperly maintained water sprinklers for the unexpected wet patch.

While the suit gives few identifying details, records show a man named Corey Glaine Rikard, 26, has a rather lengthy driving record in Pinellas County. Among the citations are knowingly driving with a suspended license, operating a vehicle without insurance, speeding in a school zone, driving the wrong way on a one-way street, and careless driving.

Rikard also has criminal arrests for DUI and armed burglary.

However, after that, Rikard turned his life around, said his mother, Kathy Rikard.

“He became an active member of a community Bible-based church,” she said in an email. “and is three years sober and sponsors for AA.”

In a suit filed Jan. 31 in Hillsborough’s County’s 13th Judicial Circuit Court, Rikard says he was driving his motorcycle June 15, 2016, on Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa.

Somewhere near the intersection of South Edison Avenue, Rikard rode into a large, unseen puddle of water left by allegedly “broken” water sprinklers managed by the city of Tampa.

The puddle caused him to skid and fly off his motorcycle, leaving him in a coma. The suit is unclear of the time of the accident, what speed he was traveling or what injuries he Rikard had incurred.

The suit, filed by Kathy Rikard on behalf of her son, says his “severe and lasting injuries” were a result of the city’s negligent maintenance of the water sprinklers.

Part of the filing contains a letter dated Jan. 18, 2017, which shows Tampa officials denying liability for Rikard’s accident. The city claims “no prior notice of a problem with water sprinklers located on Bayshore Boulevard on the date of your clients [sic] accident.”

A Tampa Police accident report was also filed, but unavailable at the time of publication.

According to Kathy Rikard, her son’s toxicology reports “came back clear” after the accident.  “He takes his sobriety so seriously, he refused any pain medication, she said. “So the doctors had to put him in traction without [drugs].”

“He takes his sobriety so seriously, he refused any pain medication, she said. “So the doctors had to put him in traction without [drugs].”

A Facebook photo from January 2016 shows a person – presumably Rikard – riding a motorcycle. Many of the posts – the last one in November 2016 – are from friends and well-wishers concerned about his condition after the incident.

Court dockets show Rikard’s residence is on Briarhaven Court in Tampa, TLO.com records also have Corey Glaine Rikard residing on Seminole Boulevard in Seminole.

Although Corey Rikard’s Facebook page lists him as a Clearwater resident who worked at North St. Pete Collision, but his mother confirms that Corey is currently living at her home in Briarhaven, Connecticut, and remains in a coma.

Former Tampa councilmember Helen Chavez died from misdiagnosis, daughter claims

A medical misdiagnosis and drug interaction caused the death of a former Tampa City Council member, her daughter claims in a lawsuit filed in Hillsborough County.

Republican Helen Pappas Chavez, a fine-dining restaurateur, served on the Tampa City Council from 1979 to 1987. She stepped down from the Council in 1987 to run for mayor, later losing to Sandy Freedman.

Her restaurants included Chavez at the Royal, Chavez Windows on the Park and the Tea Room in Old Hyde Park.

Chavez died Aug. 2, 2014, at age 89, leaving behind three daughters, one of which told the Tampa Bay Times that she died of organ failure.

Denise Elaine Chavez, 69, is one of Helen Chavez’s daughters; she also became a restaurateur and ran unsuccessfully for City Council in 2007. Chavez currently operates Chavez at Home, a catering company.

About a week before she died, Helen Chavez went the office of Dr. Christine Hyatt Torres of GMS Bayside Physicians, complaining of a swollen lip. Chavez had been on Ramipril, a drug blood-pressure and congestive-heart-failure drug; swelling is listed on drugs.com as one side effects of the drug.

According to a suit filed Jan. 31 by Denise Chavez, on behalf of the estate of Helen Chavez, Torres allegedly misdiagnosed the problem as a food allergy and prescribed Benadryl.

That day, Chavez was admitted to the emergency room, dying days later from congestive heart failure.

Denise Chavez claims the defendants – Torres, Physician Assistant Kimberly Gore and GMS Florida West Coast Inc., doing business as GMS Bayside Physicians — should have known the swelling was a side effect of Ramipril, and should have told Helen Chavez to discontinue taking the drug.

The suit also blames the defendants for discharging Chavez without referring her to a specialist first.

Denise Chavez is demanding a jury trial, and is seeking costs for hospitalization, medical care and treatment, as well as death expenses, costs, and loss of income or business interests for both Helen and Denise.

Although Torres appears on the GMS Florida website, state records show her medical license was delinquent as of Feb. 6.

GMS operates three locations in Tampa: 3043 W. Cleveland Street, 508 S. Habana Avenue, and 4278 W. Linebaugh Avenue.

World of Beer files suit over closed, rebranded Bradenton franchise

A Tampa-based chain of taverns is disputing its Bradenton franchise, which closed and rebranded without due notice or an opportunity for the parent company to buy back the business.

World of Beer is a group of brewpubs founded in part by Paul Avery and Ben Novello, two veterans of the Outback Steakhouse chain.

In 2009, the first World of Beer opened at the address in question, 8217 Tourist Center Dr. in Bradenton. Three years later, SRQBeer secured World of Beer franchise rights. SRQBeer is co-owned by Dean Lambert and Dr. Mark Broderick. World of Beer is currently headquartered at 10910 Sheldon Rd. in Tampa.

On Jan 19, 2017, SRQBeer notified World of Beer Franchising — the plaintiff in the suit — it would be closing that Bradenton location.

A day later, World of Beer representatives learned through articles in both the Bradenton Herald and Sarasota Herald-Tribune that SRQBeer agreed to let Jeremy “JDub” Joerger reopen the site almost immediately as a JDub’s Dub Shack.

JDub’s Brewing is a Sarasota-based brewery, named after Joerger, which, according to a Facebook post, opened Jan. 27 in the former World of Beer location. JDub’s is at 1215 Mango Ave. in Sarasota.

World of Beer filed an action in Hillsborough County Circuit Court asking the court to block the move. In the suit first filed Jan 27, it says SRQBeer breached its franchise contract by closing the tavern, failing to give World of Beer the right of first refusal to either buy or assign it.

In a January 31 court order, Judge Steven Scott Stephens scheduled a hearing on World of Beer’s “Emergency Amended Ex Parte Motion for Temporary Injunction” request for 9:30 a.m. February 10.

The Herald-Tribune also reported on a separate Bradenton World of Beer location at 497 Cortez Road W, which opened in 2015 and recently closed.

 

Mentally-incompetent inmate sues Tampa caseworker, facility for $6M claiming forced sexual relationship, extortion

Bobby Lewis Curry Jr.

A Tampa man with a long criminal history, who had been found incompetent due to mental illness, is suing staff at an inpatient facility for extortion by way of a forced sexual relationship.

Bobby Lewis Curry Jr., 47, is currently serving a 5-year sentence at Calhoun Correctional Institution in Blountstown for burglary, grand theft, extortion and other incidents from 2012.

Curry has an extensive criminal arrest record in Hillsborough County, among which are aggravated battery on a pregnant female, burglary, domestic violence, dealing in stolen property, and grand theft. Police reports also show Curry burglarized several businesses, as well as extorting nearly $90,000 from a burglary victim by revealing illegally obtained “private client information.” He had previously been in prison sentences for similar crimes.

A 2000 St. Petersburg Times article reports Curry was charged with threatening to have a Hillsborough judge killed: “Curry used a pay phone … to call 911 and told the operator he was going to withdraw $50,000 from his bank account to place a hit on the judge.”

In April 2013, Judge Kimberly K. Fernandez declared Curry incompetent to stand trial due to mental illness. She ordered Curry to receive competency-related treatment at Gracepoint, a nonprofit Tampa inpatient facility at 3107 N. 50th St.

Gracepoint, headquartered at 5707 N. 22nd St. In Tampa, provides inpatient and outpatient care to people with mental illness and suffering from substance abuse, among others.

At Gracepoint, Curry was allegedly forced into a sexual relationship by case manager Ruth Rodriguez, exploiting his mental illness and threatening to send him back to prison. Curry claims he had been a victim of sexual abuse all his life.

After Curry was released from Gracepoint, he accuses Rodriguez of forcing him to continue the sexual relationship or risk his probation status. When he filed a complaint — including an accusation that Rodriguez concealed an HIV-positive status — investigators purportedly substantiated some of the claims. Gracepoint then fired Rodriguez.

A lawsuit filed in Hillsborough County Circuit Court Jan. 23, handwritten and without the help of an attorney, Curry says the sexual relationship caused “severe emotional damage,” and blames Gracepoint of covering up his sexual relationship with Rodriguez, which he says began while he was a resident, not afterward.

Curry’s lawsuit accuses Lauren Mayhugh Cohn — who had at one time served as director of continuous quality improvement at Gracepoint — of falsely claiming that the relationship with Rodriguez began only after he left the inpatient care facility. Curry is suggesting Cohen knew the sexual relationship began earlier and is lying to protect Gracepoint from liability. He also accuses Tonya Wilson, Rodriguez’s longtime friend and colleague, of threatening to expel Curry from Gracepoint if he reported the abuse.

Among other claims, Curry says Rodriguez frequently required him to perform oral sex in her office, and at least once saying he was: “Crazy in the head, good in the bed.”

Curry is asking more than $6-million in regular and punitive damages. His scheduled release date from prison his April 5, 2018.

Pilot blames Gatorade heiress for ‘vicious’ dog bite

A young pilot is suing the wife of a Gatorade founder, whose dog bit him while at an airport in Tampa. The bites, he claims, sent him to the hospital.

On Nov. 21, 2015, pilot Timothy Fonseca was at the Tampa Executive Airport when he claims a German Boxer named Porsha — owned by Graciela Margarita de Quesada of Odessa — “viciously attacked” him without provocation. The bite caused puncture wounds severe enough that Fonseca was forced to go to the hospital.

Quesada, 72, is married to Dr. Alejandro de Quesada, a Cuban immigrant who was one of the four doctors credited with inventing — and becoming very wealthy from — Gatorade sports drink.

The couple lives in a 7,895-square-foot home on the edge of Lake Keystone, appraised by the county at $2.4-million.

Fonseca, 22, is president and founder of Millenial Wings, advertised as America’s only aviation club “run by young adults, for young adults.” He founded the group while attending Florida Atlantic University.

According to his Facebook page, Fonseca lives in Portugal and currently works at Eastern Air Express.

After the incident, Hillsborough County animal control officers issued Graciela de Quesada a “vicious dog” citation and fined $520. The citation said the dog was being fed when Fonseca walked by.

Although the dog bit Fonseca’s left hand, the report raises the possibility that he was reaching out to pet the animal. Charges against Quesada were later dismissed.

Tampa Executive Airport, at 6530 Tampa Executive Airport Road, offers private air-travel services. The airport is managed by Skyport Aviation, located at 6582 Eureka Springs Road in Tampa. Records also show another address for Skyport at 1519 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N in St. Petersburg.

Tampa Executive Airport is part of a network of facilities under the umbrella of the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority.

In a complaint filed Jan. 25, 2017, in Hillsborough County Circuit Court, Fonseca is seeking damages against Quesada (as the dog’s owner), and against airport manager Skyport.

 

Paramedic says Tarpon Springs hospital retaliated after reporting ‘rampant’ drug problem

A Pasco County paramedic is claiming a Tarpon hospital illegally fired him after he reported one of the nurses had a narcotic problem.

Holiday resident Manuel Michael Oliveira Jr., 45, says he was a paramedic – with an “excellent” record –  at Florida Hospital North Pinellas in Tarpon Springs. While there, he observed a “popular” nurse steal non-prescription narcotics. Oliveira claims he saw the nurse injecting herself with the drugs in a restroom.

Narcotics use is rampant in the hospital’s emergency department, Oliveira says, so much so that the department’s director, identified as Jennifer Segur, told him instituting a random drug test could cost half of its staff.

However, only four hours after Oliveira reported the nurse’s drug use to the nursing supervisor January 8, 2016, he was fired for “pretextual reasons.”

Afterward, Oliveira says the hospital staff retaliated when he applied for jobs with East Lake Fire Rescue and the Tarpon Springs Police Department by falsely claiming he was involved in the narcotics theft. Neither agency would hire him.

In a lawsuit filed January 24, 2017, in Pinellas County Circuit Court, Oliveira is seeking damages for defamation and protection under Florida’s whistleblower law.

Oliveira says the false statements negatively impacted his character, cost his employment and caused him to be “subjected to ridicule or disdain, and injured his reputation.”

After his firing, Pasco court records show that Oliveira had several brushes with the law. He was charged with domestic battery by strangulation in April 2016, and in December 2016, he was charged with battery on a law-enforcement officer.

Records also show that Oliveira’s license expired Dec. 1, 2016, and he is currently listed as “involuntary/inactive.”

 

Burrito Boarder accused of defaulting on 2011 small-business loan

Burrito Boarder, a St. Petersburg-based chain of “extreme” Tex-Mex restaurants, is being accused of defaulting on a 2011 small-business loan which the company’s founders personally guaranteed payment.

In 2008, Lisa and Giorgio Bertrand opened the first Burrito Boarder restaurant in downtown St. Petersburg at 17 3rd St. North, which is still in operation. The eatery’s corporate owner was (at one time) listed as Burrito Boarder Group LLC, formed in 2008 by manager Lisa Marie Bertrand, but was dissolved by the state of Florida in 2013 after failing to file its annual report.

Burrito Boarder’s corporate offices are at 2220 34th St. S in St. Petersburg.

In 2011, Burrito Boarder opened a second outlet in Carrollwood, which has since closed. Burrito Boarder’s website says there is also a location in Tallahassee. That year, Burrito Boarder Group obtained a small-business loan for $287,300, with both Lisa and Giorgio Bertrand personally guaranteeing repayment.

A lawsuit, filed by Regions Bank Jan. 19 in Pinellas County Circuit Court, claims Burrito Boarder defaulted on the loan the following year.

Regions is seeking repayment of $237,392 in principal, plus interest and late fees.

It is not the first time the Bertrands drew local attention.

In 2005, the Tampa Bay Times highlighted the couples “eye-catching” Pasadena Yacht & Country Club waterfront home, saying the couple also operate CiCi’s restaurant franchises. The home, originally a basic Cape Cod style, was remodeled into a sleek, modern “two-story wall of powder-coated aluminum [which] pours down the front of the house like a waterfall.”

Court records show the Bertrand’s lost the house in 2014 through a foreclosure to Regions Bank, as successor to AmSouth Bank.

Complicating matters is that Giorgio Bertrand, a native of Argentina, was killed in a 2015 boating accident in the Virgin Islands, where two people died and two were injured after the inflatable center-console boat allegedly struck a rock.

According to the St. Thomas Source, the couple and their children had been living in the Virgin Islands since 2013. There, they owned an establishment called Dinghy’s Bar and Restaurant.

Shuttered Clearwater charter school accused of leaving unpaid bills, rent

Pinellas West Coast Academy, a Clearwater charter high school that closed permanently in December 2016, is now being sued by its landlord for months of unpaid rent.

West Coast Academy – also known as 21st Century High School of Pinellas Inc. – was formally Newpoint Pinellas High and originally managed by Newpoint Education Partners.

Newpoint education is a charter school company with locations in several Florida cities; due to financial troubles, it was recently forced to close four of its five schools in Pinellas County.

According to a Tampa Bay Times report on the closings: “Newpoint Pinellas Academy, which shared a site with Pinellas Westcoast, closed about six weeks into the school year, and Windsor Preparatory Academy and East Windsor Middle Academy voluntarily terminated their charters over the summer. Enterprise High School, which separated from Newpoint in 2015, remains open.”

In May 2016, an Escambia County grand jury indicted Newpoint, accusing it of “fraudulently billing schools for supplies, equipment and services with federal startup grant funds for charter schools and laundering that money.”

The following month, the Pinellas County school board approved a one-year renewal of Newpoint’s charter, as well as its name change to West Coast. Typically, charter renewals are either for three or five years, but because of Newpoint’s financial difficulties, the Board only allowed an extension of a single year.

Plaintiffs Clearwater Collection 15 and Clearwater Plainfield 15 are two limited liability corporations owned by Colorado-based GDA Real Estate Services, which owns dozens of shopping centers in multiple states.

Court documents show Pinellas West Coast signed a 5-year lease in 2012 on a Clearwater shopping center location. The center was later purchased by the plaintiffs.

In a lawsuit filed Jan. 24 in Pinellas County Civil Court, the two plaintiffs accuse Pinellas West Coast of failing to pay rent since October 2016.

They are asking the court to help them collect unpaid rent, as well as “all other charges due under the lease, special damages, late fees, prejudgment interest, attorney’s fees and court costs.”

 

Tampa man accuses judge of retaliating over fabricated anti-Semitic remarks

Former judge Bernard Charles “Bernie” Silver

A Tampa man, fighting a protracted legal battle with family over his dead mother’s estate, is suing one of the judges in the case claiming he was falsely blamed for making anti-Semitic comments.

Those fabricated statements led the judge to retaliate by ruling against him on several motions.

Darryl Martin Schneider, 55, was in a contested legal battle with his sister, Cyrie Schneider, among others for the estate of their mother Gloria C. Schneider, who died in 2012.

in 2014, Darryl filed a lawsuit – without the help of an attorney – against Cyrie and others in Hillsborough County.

One of the judges in the ongoing case was Bernard Charles “Bernie” Silver, 71 first elected to the bench in 2006. Silver served the court through 2015, and is now in private practice.

Kim Cash

Schneider’s lawsuit said, at the time, Kim Cash was Silver’s judicial assistant. Cash now serves as the court’s media liaison.

In a suit filed January 27, Darryl Schneider accuses Cash of libel, saying her actions cost him an estimated $1-million in damages. Cash “destroyed” Schneider’s relationship with Silver, by suggesting Schneider made anti-Semitic comments about Silver during the 2014 lawsuit he brought against his sister.

Schneider argues that Cash fabricated “slanderous” lies to boost her self-esteem – something he says “low-level employees” do to feel superior.

According to the suit: “[Cash] had stated slowly to the Plaintiff [Schneider], ‘How dare you discriminate against the Jews,’ then laughed in the PIaintiff’s ear because she had just thought of this good lie to tell the Defendant’s secretary about the Plaintiff, putting Bernard [Silver] and the Plaintiff at odds with each other. Spiteful and shameless Kim Cash proudly shared her illegal plan with the Plaintiff for increased gratification.”

Silver — described in the lawsuit as an “unscrupulous” and “vindictive” “racist … looking to hurt someone white” — retaliated against Schneider by ruling against him on multiple motions as well as refusing to recuse himself.

After one hearing in the 2014 case, Schneider says Silver “walked out of court after giving [Schneider] a dirty look as if to say, you wanted to fight with a Jew, so this is what you get.”

Court transcripts show Silver telling Schneider he “needs to do a better job of arranging hearings.” Silver dismissed the claim he was holding Schneider to an unfair standard.

“Not everybody else calls my JA [judicial assistant] names and makes threatening accusations,” Silver says.

Schneider is seeking damages for defamation.

Tampa woman claims false arrest over warrant with wrong name, race

Pamela Elaine Orellana

A Tampa woman claims she was falsely arrested on a Virginia warrant, despite it having the wrong name and race.

Pamela Elaine Orellana, a 49-year-old Tampa woman formerly known as Pamela Elaine Mullins, was arrested in Pinellas County in 1996 on a charge of performing a lewd and lascivious act in the presence of a minor under the age of 16.

Mullins eventually pleaded “no contest.” Adjudication was withheld, but she was required to register as a sex offender.

Since then, Pamela Mullins has had several brushes with the law.

In 2005, Mullins — now Orellana — was charged in Hillsborough County with failing to register as a sex offender, a charge that court records suggest was also dropped. Her husband, Joshua Paul Orellana, sued Pamela for divorce in 2006. Pamela Orellana was also arrested for DUI in 2013.

After a minor traffic accident on Dec. 10, 2014, Orellana, who is African-American, claims to have been sitting in her car when a Tampa police officer handcuffed her and took her to jail. There, she was strip-searched and held on a warrant out of Virginia.

In a lawsuit filed Jan. 25 in Hillsborough County Circuit Court, Orellana accused police of acting negligently since the warrant was for a white woman in the name had a different middle initial.

“Despite not matching the description of the alleged warrant,” the suit says, “the Defendant yee publicly humiliated and arrested the Plaintiff, leading to the Plaintiff being forced to strip down in front of other people, and the Plaintiff being deprived of her freedom.”

Orellana is asking the court for damages for false imprisonment, battery, negligence, and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Orellana’s suit does not indicate which Virginia county issued the arrest, exactly who was named in the warrant, nor why it was issued.

One possibility is that if the Virginia warrant concerned a sex crime — as Mullins/Orellana had been a registered sex offender — Tampa police may have held her as a precaution.

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