Local Courts Archives - Page 7 of 17 - SaintPetersBlog

Misplaced road signage resulted in death of Pinellas Park couple, suit claims

Henry and Diana Neuner

Two companies responsible for placing proper signage and blockades on the Veterans Expressway in Tampa during construction are being held accountable in the death of a Pinellas Park couple.

Henry and Diana Neuner‘s two sons, Leo and Nolan Neuner are suing GLF Construction of Miami and Sema Construction, a Centennial, Colorado-based firm, for negligence. The wrongful death action was filed in Hillsborough County’s 13th Judicial Circuit Court on Dec. 13, 2016.

The Neuners died June 11, 2016, while en route to Withlacoochee State Park to watch the sunrise. As Mr. Neuner drove north on the expressway, he stayed in the far-right lane, which is typically an exit-only lane. However, the lane appeared to continue.

As the car traveled over the Gunn Highway overpass, the lane suddenly ended. The car slammed into a concrete barricade at an estimated 45 mph. GLF owned the barricade, which obstructed the entire right lane. There wasn’t an opportunity for Mr. Neuner to brake or avoid collision with the obstruction. Both Henry and Diana died almost immediately.

Florida Department of Transportation contracted Sema and GLF to work on widening the Veterans Expressway. Each company was assigned a sector of the highway. The line adjoining the two sectors is the Gunn Highway exit around Mile Marker 9. Both companies were responsible for erecting and maintaining “roadway construction signage, traffic cones, and other directional devices.” Barrels and signs stating “Road Closed” were placed by the exit prior to the accident, however at some point before the crash, they were removed and never replaced.

The sons are co-representatives of their parents’ estate.

A Tampa Bay Reporter article on the accident stated that Mrs. Neuner wasn’t wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident.

The Neuner’s left behind two sons and four grandchildren.

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Lesbian employee says nursing home tolerated anti-gay discrimination

After being assaulted and harassed for being a lesbian, a senior living facility employee is suing the facility for discrimination.

Michelle Del Valle was working at Inspired Living Validus Senior Living in Tampa when she was assaulted by the spouse of a resident.

Now she is suing her employer on seven counts including negligence, retaliation, breaking the Florida Civil Rights Act, and discrimination.

Del Valle began working for the facility June 1, 2015 as a medical technician. She was responsible for giving residents designated medicines. To do this, she used a secure cart that was never to leave her side while performing her job duties.

Del Valle claims to have been harassed, ridiculed and abused daily because of her sexual orientation. Her employer didn’t do much to stop the harassment, despite multiple complaints from Del Valle.

The spouse, Patrice Gunther, demanded Del Valle refrain from contacting or coming near her and her husband. Inspired Living did as requested, thus pardoning illegal acts happening within its facility, in the opinion of Del Valle.

Per the suit, Gunther told the director of the senior living facility Del Valle was “in her ‘space’ too much,” and that she did not like the employee because she’s lesbian.

Gunther would call Del Valle a “dyke” and “trash” and would be aggressive and angry toward her.

Rather than defending its employee, Inspired Living indefinitely suspended Del Valle. She was suspended for days before she was brought back to work and “was directed to stay away from Mr. and Mrs. Gunther.” She wasn’t permitted to be in the same hallway as the couple, take her cart to the dining hall where the Gunther’s could be, or administer Mr. Gunther his medication.

Gunther was also given Del Valle’s work schedule to know when she would be in the building.

Even after Del Valle complied with her new rules, Gunther continued to make complaints about her presence.

Things took a turn for the worse Aug. 28, 2015.

Del Valle was handing out medicine to patients when she arrived at Gunther’s room. Per procedure, she called another employee to get Mr. Gunther’s medicine from the cart. Gunther came from her husband’s room and ran to the medicine cart. She screamed at Del Valle to “get out of here.” However, Del Valle would have been in violation of her job duties had she left the cart, so she apologized and told Gunther she had to do her job.

Gunther continued screaming, calling Del Valle a “piece of crap.”

Gunther attempted to grab the cart key from Del Valle’s hand, causing her to fall backward. On Aug. 31, Del Valle was terminated for not walking away from the situation. If she had left the cart, she still could have faced termination.

In the suit, Del Valle seeks damages for front and back pay, benefits and emotional distress caused by the harassment.

The Inspired Living facility in question is at 5130 Kelly Road. It opened in early 2015 with a specialization in Alzheimer’s, dementia and other mental impairments.

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Florida sues open-carry group run by former Libertarian Senate candidate for illegal fundraising

Alexander Snitker

A Pasco County-based political group promoting “liberty” and smaller government, as well as open-carry and campus-gun laws, is being sued by the state of Florida for fundraising as an illegitimate nonprofit.

Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is suing Liberty First Network, demanding the New Port Richey-based organization cease fundraising immediately and pay a $1,000 fine.

Alexander Andrew “Alex” Snitker, 41, founded the Florida Liberty Network in 2013, which was later renamed Liberty First Network. Its principal business address is listed as 9851 State Road 54 in New Port Richey.

Those who follow politics may remember Snitker as the 2010 Libertarian Party candidate for Florida’s U.S. Senate seat. Snitker left the Party in 2016 to join the Republican Party, despite his continued support for Libertarian Gary Johnson for president.

In a Sunshine State News Op-Ed, Snitker explained why he left: “The Libertarian Party of Florida is filled with far too many bureaucrats who continuously look to bring more power within the party up to the top and will do so by any means.”

On the Liberty First website, Snitker established the organization with one principle: “To place Liberty first in Tallahassee.”

As a self-described “pending” 501(c)(4) Florida nonprofit organization, Liberty First seeks to “educate citizens about Liberty, and to advocate for the restoration of Liberty in the Florida Legislature and elsewhere.”

Nevertheless, charities who raise funds in Florida are required by the state to register annually with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services — something Liberty First failed to do, since registration for the Network lapsed last year.

On Feb. 1, 2016, the Department filed a complaint, accusing the group of illegally soliciting contributions. By March 26, the state had ordered the Network to stop fundraising and pay the $1,000 fine.

In a suit filed Jan. 4 in Hillsborough County Circuit Court, the state says the Network, as of yet, had done neither. Now the department is asking the court to intervene.

The Network’s primary goals are to limit government’s role in the lives of Floridians. To that end, it employs lobbyists — John Hallman, Danielle Alexandre and Theile Riordan (for “marketing”) — in an effort to push an extensive priority list: enact open-carry and campus-carry gun laws, abolition of red-light cameras, reduce funding for state purchases of conservation land, and eliminate funding for Enterprise Florida, the governor’s corporate relocation incentives fund.

The Network has also actively supported the effort to prevent Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

By way of the Florida Action Alerts website, the Network also issues calls to Florida lawmakers (as well as concerned citizens) to take legislative action on its agenda.

One such call to action came in October 2015, when Liberty First and Florida Citizens Alliance asked supporters to email state representatives and senators in support of open-carry bills HB 163, from state Rep. Matt Gaetz, and SB 300, from Gaetz’s father, state Sen. Don Gaetz. Both bills sought to establish what state Rep. Julio Gonzalez, a Venice Republican, described at the time as the “God-given right to openly carry weapons.”

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Riverview parents say school put 5-year-old son on wrong bus

Parents trust the county school bus system to get their child home safely from school, but parents of a 5-year-old Riverview boy faced their worst fears after the school bus dropped the child off at the wrong stop.

According to a lawsuit filed by Steve Fish on behalf of his son, Takoda, the School Board of Hillsborough County failed Takoda and his parents when the boy was put onto a school bus that wasn’t his designated vehicle, and leaving him at the wrong stop. A member of the school board had escorted Takoda to the bus.

After he didn’t come home from school July 28, 2016, both parents searched frantically for their son, before eventually finding him safe.

Bus driver Vicki Hampton apparently left the child at a random stop, where there was no one there to greet or pick him up.

Fish is accusing SBHC of negligence for failing to provide supervision for Takoda, failing to put him on the correct bus, failing to drop him at the correct stop, and failing to provide a safe environment.

Takoda is a student at Summerfield Elementary School, located at 11990 Big Bend Road in Riverview. Given that the incident took place in July, it is possible that Takoda Fish was at Summerfield Elementary for either summer school or camp.

Takoda has allegedly suffered due to the incident, forcing him to seek ongoing medical care and mental treatment.

That morning, Fish posted a photo of himself and Takoda to Facebook that read, “Off to see the TB Bucs practice this morning.”

Takoda and Steve Fish, in a Facebook post the same day Takoda was allegedly put on the wrong school bus.
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Landscaper loses big toe, then job, after lawn mower accident

Florida Workers’ Compensation is set up to protect employees injured on the job; however, one worker who lost his toe to a lawn mower also lost his job after seeking compensation.

Hillsborough County resident William Francis worked for Village Lawn Care for 10 years. In late September of last year, his big toe was cut off in a lawn mower accident.

VLC, owned by Albert Aucoin Jr. of Lutz, is located at 1501 Skipper Road in Tampa.

The day of the accident, he notified VLC of his injury and made a claim for benefits for a work-related injury.

Medical documentation of the accident was provided to his employer Oct. 4 along with the appropriate workers’ compensation paperwork.

Francis was fired Oct. 7, in what he says was retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim.

In the Dec. 8 suit, Francis requests the court grant compensation for lost pay, benefits and damages for emotional distress.

The suit does not state who was operating the mower at the time of the accident.

 

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National homebuilder blames Tampa contractor for stucco problems in 8 communities

David Weekley, co-founder of Texas-based builder David Weekley Homes

One of the country’s largest homebuilders is accusing a past subcontractor after multiple complaints sprouted from eight Florida communities.

Weekley Homes is a Houston, Texas-based homebuilder founded in 1976 by brothers David and Dick Weekley.

Weekley entered a contract in 2005 with A & D Construction in Tampa. Per the contract, A & D would install stucco in single-family homes.

Homeowners have been making claims of defects in the stucco against Weekley. They claim the stucco does not comply with building codes and has caused damage to other parts of the homes.

When Weekley reached out to A & D about the issue, there was no response. Weekley asked that A & D defend it in regards to the claims made against the company and asked for the construction company to participate in the matters, address the claims and fund a solution. The company has yet to offer a solution to the problem.

Due to a lack of response, Weekley has been forced to investigate and repair the defects as well as retain a lawyer to represent them against the homeowners.

A & D is being sued on five counts for breach of contract, contractual indemnity and negligence.

Weekley claims the fault does not lie with it, but fully with A & D.

The homes experiencing stucco issues are in Brookwood Buckingham, FishHawk Garden, FishHawk Ranch, Highland Park, Longleaf, Panther Trace and Wilderness Lake Preserve.

The president of A & D was Daniel Gonzalez. However, it was voluntarily dissolved in 2009.

On its website, Weekley boasts it is the “largest privately-held homebuilder in America.” In 1999, Forbes named the company no. 388 in its list of the top 500 Biggest Private Companies. It has made the “Top 100 Best Companies to Work For” by Fortune. In 2013, it received the award for National Builder of the Year.

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Riverview woman sues electrical contractor for assault, attempted rape

Adam Millan

With an electrician left alone at her home, a Riverview resident was beaten and attacked with a knife as the worker attempted to rape her.

“Jane Doe” is suing the electrical company, Big Daddy Electric and its owner, Aaron Allen, after an employee attacked the tenant of the property they were working at.

Doe claims the company should have known of the potential danger posed by the employee. A background check performed by Doe revealed the employee was convicted of murder.

Big Daddy, located at 21817 Dupree Dr. in Land O’Lakes, faces three counts of negligence and vicarious liability.

On April 13, 2016, Doe moved into her home in Riverview. She noticed electrical problems shortly after moving in and notified her landlord.

By April 29, Big Daddy employee Adam Millan, a Ruskin resident, was sent out to the home to determine what repairs were necessary. It was discovered work was needed and Millan returned with Allen May 18.

Allen left the house, leaving Millan with Doe. Millan then left, telling Doe he needed to get supplies. However, when he returned, he attacked Doe with a knife and “attempted to sexually assault and kill” her, says the suit.

Doe was saved when a neighbor heard her screams and came to the rescue.

Millan was arrested the next day for burglary of a dwelling with assault or battery, sexual battery on a person over 18, and aggravated battery causing great bodily harm.

As of Jan. 4, Millan is still in jail. He has a record in Hillsborough County and, allegedly, has a record in New York for manslaughter.

It is unclear if Big Daddy ever ran a background check on Millan.

At the time of the initial inspection, Doe’s boyfriend was present; on the date of the attack, he was not home.

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Homeless man forces question: Is Hillsborough County anti-panhandling ordinance working?

Richard Butler Jr.

A homeless man arrested at least 7 times since 2011 for panhandling stirs up the question of whether Hillsborough County panhandling ordinances are truly effective.

Hillsborough County increased the limits of its panhandling ordinance to include all public roads in 2011. Previously, it only stretched to county roads. This meant homeless could no longer hold up signs asking for money or goods off roadways anywhere in the county. The goal of the new ordinance was to get people off the roadways, however, homeless could be subjected to a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail if caught panhandling.

Richard Butler Jr. is a homeless person who has been arrested several times. Most recently, he was arrested Dec. 8, 2016, for solicitation and distribution on a public road, or panhandling.

Butler wasn’t fined, however. He was in custody for four days. The judge sent him to a pre-intervention program rather than have him serve jail time.

According to Hillsborough County arrest records, a fine has never been given to Butler for panhandling. The reasoning for this may lie in his indigent status. When he filed for criminal indigent status in December, Butler listed his only source of income as food stamps.

In the past, Butler has spent weeks in jail serving time for panhandling. He has been arrested for grand theft, public consumption and trespassing.

Before the 2011 ordinance was enacted, officers would charge panhandlers with trespassing when found near public roads. The law was created with officers in mind as it can be a hassle to determine whether a road is a county road or not.

When Butler was arrested in December, he was sitting on the shoulder near an 1-4 exit ramp at McIntosh Road holding a sign that read, “Homeless. Hungry. God Bless.”

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Pricey Palm Harbor home rental brings nightmare to tenants, lawsuit to landlord

After spending a year in a $7,650-a-month home rental, a couple is suing their landlord, claiming the house is falling apart.

Jeramie Concklin and his wife, Honor, moved into the 7,600-square-foot rental in Palm Harbor Jan. 15, 2016.

Now, Mr. Concklin is suing the landlord to terminate the lease and get a refund of the money spent suing him. The suit was filed Dec. 14, 2016.

However, the original landlord, Kamal Nasser, deeded the home to his son, Rifaat Kamal Al-Nasser in late September. Al-Nasser was set to take over as landlord, creating a new lease.

Nasser asked for the lease to state it was from Jan. 1, 2015, but the Concklin’s did not wish to be part of a fraudulent contract. The couple refused to sign.

When they first viewed the house in October 2015, Nasser told the couple he was in the process of completing improvements on the pool house and completing construction of a tree house. He guaranteed everything would be completed in time for them to move in. The Concklin’s signed a two-year lease in November.

Per the lease, their move-in date was set for Dec. 1, 2015; rent was set at $5,900.

On Nov. 8, Nasser informed the Concklin’s that the property wouldn’t be ready until Jan. 1, 2016, asking to change the lease to fit the new date. They reluctantly agreed.

After coming to an agreement on the home’s furnishings, both parties agreed to rent the home for $7,500, including furniture.

An updated lease, including these changes, was sent to the Concklin’s Nov. 26. Nevertheless, Nasser made minor changes and requested the couple come to the home Dec. 2 to sign the finalized lease.

The new tenants were prohibited from inspecting the home but were assured there were only minor improvements to complete, and everything would be done by the time they moved in.

When they finally moved in, the Concklins a cockroach infestation, the pool house wasn’t completed, the tree house hadn’t been started, the master bedroom ceiling fan wasn’t working, shower doors and curtain rods were missing from all bathrooms, and four bedrooms were missing mattresses.

Shortly after moving in, the air conditioner in the master bedroom stopped working. The unit was replaced with a new unit that leaked water, causing water damage and mold to grow throughout the room. The following months yielded three more units to either flood or stop working. The company working on the air conditioners informed the Concklin’s that they would not make any more repairs until Nasser paid the balance on the account.

Water stains were found in the home. When Nasser was told of the issue, he told the tenants he would paint over them.

The lease also included lawn and pool service. For months, the pool water was green, and the lawn was suffering.

The Concklin’s have paid over $100,000 in rent throughout the 11 months living in the home.

In November, they wrote to Nasser asking for repairs to be made or rent would be withheld. Although contractors and experts came to make estimates, Nasser hired handymen to fix the mold, water pressure, roof damage and other issues.

Because the work wasn’t completed by December, rent was withheld. Nasser attempted to evict the tenants Dec. 10. The notice was taped to their door and requested payment be made by Nov. 6, 2016, more than a month before the eviction notice was given.

Legally, Florida tenants can withhold rent when notice is given under certain circumstances.

Mrs. Concklin is the lawyer of record in the suit.

 

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Student paralyzed as six-year-old dies at 17, mother sued for $15.5K funeral costs

After becoming a quadriplegic 11 years ago at age 6, E’traveon Johnson passed away last year, leaving his mother to pay thousands of dollars for a funeral.

Now, Lawson Funeral Home and Cremation Services is suing St. Petersburg resident Chantelle Ross, 37, for refusing to pay nearly $15,500 funeral costs for her 17-year-old son. Lawson Funeral Home is at 4535 Central Ave. in St. Petersburg.

The suit seeks payment for the funeral, interest and fees associated with bringing the suit. It was filed on Dec. 16. However, the suit was written and signed in late October.

In 2005, E’traveon Johnson ran out of Fairmount Park Elementary into oncoming traffic. A car struck the boy, leaving him paralyzed. Three years later, the Pinellas County School Board approved a $1.1 million settlement for Johnson and Ross. That year, E’traveon’s special-needs trust fund paid about $189,000 for a 1,674-square-foot home in St. Petersburg, where his mother still resides.

Medical care for a quadriplegic can be expensive. It is likely those funds quickly ran out, leaving Ross without money to cover the funeral.

On Jan. 28, 2016, Johnson passed away. Lawson Funeral home was hired by Ross to handle the arrangements.

Ross let her nursing certification expire in 2007, according to state records.

It is unclear what caused Johnson’s death. His obituary described Johnson as a “hospital-home bound 11th grader who loved to sing.”

 

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