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HART, trucking company face off over public records for evidence in 2015 crash

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A 2015 accident between a tractor-trailer and a Hillsborough County bus has set off a legal dispute over the right to access public records. As part of the disagreement, the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority Agency is claiming footage shot inside the bus during the crash, necessary to help exonerate the owner of the tractor-trailer, is confidential and cannot be released. ArcBest is an Arkansas-based publicly traded transportation logistics company, with revenues of $2.7-billion in fiscal year 2016. On Sept. 2,…

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Hillsborough sheriffs look to keep drugs, money siezed after tasing suicidal man

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After telling friends on Facebook he was suicidal, a Tampa man was tased by sheriff’s deputies, who found marijuana and money in the home. Now the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is going to court to keep the cash. Andres Eduardo Javage, 30, is a self-employed mechanic and the founder of Auto Nutrition in Tampa, which offers vehicle maintenance service at customer’s homes. On Feb. 15, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a call at 11422 Wheeling Dr. in Tampa,…

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Rumberger Kirk shareholder Jared Smith named to Hillsborough County Court

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Jared Smith is the new judge on the Hillsborough County Court. He was one of six new judges appointed Friday by Gov. Rick Scott. Smith, 41, of Lutz, is a shareholder with Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell and a former Air Force JAG officer. His specialty is defense in areas including banking and finance, construction, auto negligence, and products injury. His law degree is from Washburn University School of Law. Smith fills the vacancy created by the resignation of Walter Heinrich.

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Man wounded in controversial 2013 shooting by St. Pete Police claims negligence

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A man shot in 2013 by police executing a search warrant in St. Petersburg is suing both the department and the officer who shot him, claiming negligence. Danardrick Rashad Chance is a 23-year-old St. Petersburg resident. According to police records, he has an arrest record dating back to 2007. In 2013, Chance was involved in a controversial shooting incident with police that was widely reported in local news. Shannon Michele Halstead, 40, serves as a law-enforcement officer with the St.…

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Local ‘Dancing with the Stars’ winner says Powerhouse Gym owes her $311K

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A local winner of the reality ‘Dancing with the Stars’ competition is claiming the now-shuttered Powerhouse Gym in downtown Tampa owes her more than $300,000. Sarah Jon Porreca, 34, is an owner of Lending Luxury, a Tampa boutique that specializes in renting out women’s formalwear. A former fitness competitor, Porreca was also a 2011 winner of Tampa Bay’s Dancing with the Stars. In 2014, Porreca paid $1.15-million for a 5-bedroom, 5.5-bath home in Tampa. Matthew Midyett opened a Powerhouse Gym…

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Nielsen is demanding $800K property-tax refund from Pinellas County due to accounting error

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Global marketing research company Nielsen is demanding a refund of thousands in Pinellas County property taxes after the company discovered an accounting error. On March 10, the New York-based firm filed suit against Pinellas County Property Appraiser Mike Twitty, Tax Collector Charles Thomas and Leon Biegalski, who serves as executive director of the Florida Department of Revenue. Nielsen is asking for $800,000 returned from the $2-million paid in Pinellas County property taxes for the years 2013 and 2014 for its…

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Florida Health Department whistleblowers sue agency claiming retaliation

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Two former Florida Department of Health employees are seeking damages against the agency for being fired after reporting violations, which a different state agency decided was likely retaliation. Part of the FDOH, the Bureau of Public Health Laboratories provides “diagnostic screening, monitoring, reference, research and emergency public health laboratory services to county health departments and other official agencies, physicians, hospitals and private laboratories,” according to its website. Based in Jacksonville, with locations in Tampa and Miami, the labs can “diagnose…

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