Local Courts Archives - Page 7 of 12 - SaintPetersBlog

Tampa townhome builder slams contractor for cascade of collapsing walls

Contractor Jose Moreno

A Plant City contractor is on the hook for a faulty wall installation at a construction site in Tampa that resulted in a cascading domino effect, nearly ruining an entire townhome project.

On July 4, 2015, a third-floor masonry wall collapsed at the site of a pair townhomes being developed on a vacant lot at 206 Audubon Ave. in Tampa. The failure, due to improper bracing, caused surrounding walls to cascade, with estimated damage of nearly $100,000.

American Zurich Insurance Company was the insurer of 206 Audubon LLC, the St. Petersburg-based owner of the property. Audubon was incorporated in 2013 by Sand Key Management I LLC, which is managed by Jeffrey Troy “Jeff” Craft, a 42-year-old German native.

American Zurich made payments of nearly $100,000 to 206 Audubon to cover the cost of rebuilding.

Zurich is suing the subcontractor hired to build the wall that collapsed for compensatory damages, interest and costs.

Among the contractors on the project, Jessie’s Construction, owned by Jose Moreno of Plant City, was responsible for properly securing the wall. Jessie’s was subcontracted specifically to build masonry walls.

BayLawsuits reported that Jessie’s Construction dissolved in 2014 after failing to file an annual report. A week before the Audubon site accident, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined the contractor $5,800 for four safety violations, three of them designated “serious.” Records show neither Jessie’s Construction or Moreno have an associated contractor’s license.

According to Baylawsuits, Moreno — a Mexico native — was arrested and charged with DUI in February 2016. He previously was arrested for DUI in 2008, and for criminal mischief in 2006.

Masonry walls are typically made of brick and cement, but the suit does not specify the construction materials used.

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Clash between Station House, manager gets ugly over termination, theft

When Station House fired Alex Gilmour, it allegedly failed to hold up its end of a contract between the two parties.

Restaurateur Alexander Hutton “Alex” Gilmour IV, 42, is best known for The DrYnk Soho nightclub in Tampa. As the former manager of Station House, Gilmour is now suing the downtown St. Petersburg eatery for breach of contract and civil theft. In the suit, he demands payment for unpaid salary and management fees.

On July 11, 2014, Station House SP LLC entered a Management Agreement with Gilmour.

When the agreement was signed, Gilmour and Ro Patel were listed as co-owners of Hospitality Engineers LLC, which would provide services to Station House.

The terms of the agreement were from July 11, 2014, to July 11, 2016.

In June 2015, Patel left the company, leaving Gilmour to manage the restaurant alone. However, Station House and Gilmour agreed to follow through on the original agreement.

About three months later, Station House ceased paying management fees in September 2015, which were to be paid to Gilmour under the terms of the contract.

When Gilmour notified the company that fees were due, the suit claims no action was taken to repay.

On Dec. 21, 2015, Station House informed Gilmour he would no longer be retained as the restaurant’s general manager. Salary payments were then stopped.

After his termination, Station House held Gilmour’s personal property — a projector and toolbox filled with tools. According to email correspondence between the two parties, the items would be returned in exchange for the return of personal emails and intellectual property of the restaurant.

In March, Gilmour and his attorneys submitted a written demand for the return of assets along with threefold payment — referred in the suit to as treble damages — for the items.

The restaurant responded to the request by offering to return the property but refusing to pay treble damages.

In an email sent Jan. 6, 2016, by Steve “Flip” Gianfilippo, Station House’s developer, says Gilmour was terminated for alcohol consumption issues, failing to disclose information on his business relationship with employees, and creating businesses based on Station House’s brand while under contract with the restaurant. Gilmour’s lawyer calls these claims are defamatory.

Station House is at 260 1st Ave. S in St. Petersburg.

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Mobile-home chain wrestles with ex-con tenant over rent payments sent in error

kenneth-moore
Kenneth Moore Jr.

When Tampa’s Livingston Family Communities came under new ownership at the end of 2015, problems arose for one long term resident of the mobile home park.

Kenneth Moore Jr., 54, originally filed suit January 2016 against the newly formed Livingston Family Communities LLC. Although Moore lost that case, he didn’t give up hope.

Moore filed an appeal on Nov. 14, 2016.

The community was purchased by a newly formed company, Livingston Family Communities. They company paid $1.465 million for the property Nov. 24, 2015. Residents were informed of the change of ownership Dec. 3, 2015, two days after December’s rent was due.

By then, many residents had either already paid rent or set it to be paid to the previous owners.

Moore arranged with his bank to automatically send out rent in the form of a cashier’s check on the fourth of every month.

When Moore received the notice, he informed the company’s representative that he received his disability payments on the third of every month and a cashier’s check was sent out on the fourth of each month. The representative told him not to worry because other tenants are in the same situation. He also informed the representative that he would have to contact his bank to have payment sent to the correct company.

To redirect the payment to the new company, Moore had to contact his bank. The bank had to process the request and the payment wasn’t sent until the following business day, Monday Dec. 7, 2016.

The company signed the check on Dec. 17 and cashed it five days later.

On Dec. 9, Moore received a notice taped to his mailbox demanding rent be paid along with late fees totaling nearly $30. Three days later, Moore received a second notice via mail.

Moore claims his rent was late only because he was given extremely short notice to contact his bank and make appropriate changes to the payment.

On Dec. 30, a notice came in the mail stating Moore would have to pay $345 in full to the company for January rent and new late fee charges. On Jan. 2, another letter was received informing him the company would not accept bank transfers or checks.

Moore made his January rent payment by money order to the park manager.

Moore claims to have lived at the mobile home park for the past 15 years. In those years, he was never late on paying rent.

In fact, Moore couldn’t have continuously lived at the property — he was incarcerated from 2005 to 2006 for a charge of battery on a law enforcement officer. Since 1997, Moore had been arrested for several crimes: DUI (multiple times), leaving the scene of a crash, loitering/prowling, domestic violence, aggravated battery/great bodily harm, and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

According to Baylawsuits.com, Moore’s records show he has extensive experience filing legal briefs without the aid of an attorney.

Livingston Family Communities mobile home park is at 15812 Livingston Ave. in Tampa.

livingston-notice

 

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Man thrown off Tampa garage blames strip club, police for failing to prevent attack

A new lawsuit is opening old wounds for the victim of a 2013 gentlemen’s club brawl where a man was tossed off a parking garage.

Jordan Archuleta of Edgewood, New Mexico was in Tampa for work when he decided to visit The Penthouse Club, a gentlemen’s club on Westshore Boulevard.

After Archuleta got into an altercation with another patron — purportedly named Raymond Andrew Mondracon — the two were removed from the property. Once outside, the quarrel between them continued.

A bystander witnessed Archuleta get “violently assaulted” and called 911. The caller reported that Archuleta was followed into a neighboring parking garage by his attacker.

Tampa Police responded to the call immediately. A man named in the suit as “Sgt. Graham” arrived and spoke to the bystander before pursuing the suspect that was described to the sergeant as a “young, shirtless, Hispanic male,” according to the suit.

From inside the garage, Graham witnessed a man fitting the description of the attacker ascend a corner stairwell. Graham allegedly asked the man if he was OK, however he received no response. He cleared the call and left the area.

Once the coast was clear, Archuleta was beaten and thrown from an upper level of the garage. He was transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital. Archuleta suffered head trauma and fractures in his arm and leg. Surgeries were required to fix the fractures.

In the suit, Archuleta says The Penthouse Club, the garage, the City of Tampa, Police Chief Eric Ward, and Tampa Police Department are all at fault for the attack. The Penthouse Club is owned by defendant Westshore Food & Beverage, whose members are Jada Brueggeman and Deanna Dunbar.

Archuleta claims his attacker Mondracon.

The club reportedly served excessive amounts of alcohol to Mondracon. This consumption of alcohol caused him to become “visibly intoxicated, loud, obnoxious, violent and aggressive toward other business invitees,” the suit says.

The Mondracon was never charged with a crime.

At the time of the attack, Archuleta worked in the moving industry.

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Lutz woman dies after falling, son blames Lifeline

rosemary-blair
Rosemary Blair

Lifeline AutoAlert is a personal-safety device intended to save the lives of elderly folks who have fallen or slipped.

However, one allegedly defective device may have cost a Hillsborough County woman her life.

Rosemary Blair, 83, died Nov. 22, 2014 in her Lutz RV home. Her son, Land O’Lakes resident Steven Blair, found her on the floor about 24 hours after the fall. He immediately rushed her to St. Joseph’s Hospital North on 4211 Van Dyke Road in Lutz, where she died from pneumonia and other complications caused by the fall.

Blair is suing Dutch conglomerate Philips Electronics, Lifeline’s creator, on behalf of his mother.

Blair is claiming he is suffering from the loss of his mother’s support, companionship and protection, and he and the Estate of Rosemary Blair have incurred both medical and funeral expenses.

Philips markets its Lifeline products to the elderly and their families. Although the system is promoted as being able to detect more than 95 percent of falls, Lifeline may not detect gradual slides from a seated position.

According to the suit, Rosemary’s Lifeline Communicator failed to operate. After his mother’s passing, Blair says he tested the device. It failed to either detect any falls or notify Phillips.

Typically, a device is activated by detecting a fall or when the owner pushes its button. At that point, the communicator is supposed to connect the fallen person to Philips’ response center.

A team member contacts the person to assess the situation and determine if they should call family or emergency medical services.

In the suit, filed Nov. 17, 2016, Blair is accusing Philips of three counts: liability, negligence and violation of Florida law.

Blair claims Philips was negligent by misrepresenting the abilities of the communicator, failing to put safeguards in place to determine when a communicator stops working, and by failing to ensure devices can detect serious falls.

At the time the complaint was filed, Rosemary’s estate was opened and pending approval.

“Philips claims to be the No. 1 medical alert service in the United States,” the suit says. “The AutoAlert Help Button detects greater than 95 percent of many types of falls, based on the number of undetected falls reported to Philips Lifeline by U.S. AutoAlert subscribers from January 2012 through July 2012.”

But another page on the Philips website notes: “AutoAlert does not detect 100 percent of falls. If able, users should always push their button when they need help.”

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Dentists fighting tooth and nail land in Hillsborough court over practice, property

After a dispute destroyed the relationship between two Tampa business partners, one is now in court asking to dissolve their joint dental business.

Mark Goodnight and Dwight Sanjuan are equal partners of Goodnight-Sanjuan, a company founded in 2005. The company owns a property at 3223 S. Dale Mabry Highway that is home to the partners’ dental practice.

Both Goodnight and Sanjuan work out of the office as well as at another location in Tampa.

Goodnight specializes in orthodontics, while Sanjuan works as a pediatric dentist.

Recently, Sanjuan hired an associate dentist who works at the Dale Mabry office. Sanjuan rarely visits the office.

Because their practices center around family, both parties must keep a peaceful, family-friendly environment.

This wasn’t an issue up until recently when the two began disputing over what to do with the shared property. The dispute has led to issues in the office. Goodnight says it has led to “conflict” and “acrimony” which included employees and arguments at times in front of clients.

One instance, the suit says, occurred when one of Sanjuan’s employees took down a sign that was put up by an employee of Goodnight. When asked to return the sign, “an agent or agents of the entity operated by Sanjuan filed what is understood to be a falsified report of criminal assault and battery.” This incident, reportedly, occurred in the presence of patients.

A second issue Goodnight brings up is that the new associate hired by Sanjuan is not certified to work as a pediatric dentist. This poses a threat to the company and the partners as it is in violation of Florida law.

Goodnight seeks the company dissolved, asking for property to be split between himself and Sanjuan.

 

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Developer shut out from low-income housing tax credit sues city of Tampa

A low-income housing developer is suing the City of Tampa for choosing to fund a city project rather than its 102-unit senior housing project.

In December 2015, Madison Highlands purchased a vacant lot at 5315 N. 37th St. in Tampa where it planned to develop the property.

Madison Highlands — owned and managed by Patrick E. Law — proposed a low-income housing option for seniors. However, the project needed financial backing from the city.

The organization applied to the Florida Housing Finance Corporation (FHFC), to obtain necessary tax credits to begin development.

In total, the project would require $20 million in loans.

There are two requirements of the FHFC Request for Application (RFA). Developers submitting an FHFC RFA must select either a Local Government Preference (LGP) or Local Government Contribution (LGC).

Applicants who select and qualify for LGP receive 10 points in the process, with only one project receiving the LGP. Multiple applicants can receive an LGC.

Both LGC and LGP work as ways for the local government to select which affordable housing developer will receive tax credits through FHFC.

On Sept. 30, 2016, the City of Tampa eliminated all competing projects when it made its final written decision to support an “area of opportunity” funding to one of its own projects, and not any alternative.

The suit claims the city chose to fund its own project over the others without notice or any form of a public hearing. In its complaint, Madison says city officials failed to solicit or accept applications, did not provide selection criteria, nor did they document the selection process.

Madison Highlands is requesting the court review whether due process has been afforded, whether all laws have been followed and whether the judgment and findings of the city are supported by evidence.

Per the properties application for housing financing, Law is both the manager of Madison Highlands and owner of 99.9 percent of the company,

Law also owns American Residential Development, the developer behind Madison Highlands. The company has completed two other properties: Madison Heights in Tampa, and Madison Reserve in Spring Hill.

Madison Heights, which provides housing for low-to-moderate income seniors, is at 1250 N. Marion St.

 

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Tampa attorney sues former partner killed in 2015 plane crash

gene-odomWhen lawyer Ralph Odom II died in a 2015 plane crash, he left his estate with a $2.9 million debt.

Now, a year after his death, Odom’s partner is suing that estate for money owed on behalf of their law group.

Odom and his business partner, Nick Martinez, 56, shared the ownership of Martinez-Odom Law Group. From 2013 to 2015, Odom borrowed money from the business for personal use.

Odum was to pay the loans back, however, he died shortly before Thanksgiving 2015.

On Nov. 9, 2015, Odom, then 40, was flying to Georgia in a Cessna 441 plane when it crashed, killing him and Lester Hathcox, a longtime pilot for WFLA-TV and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. It is unclear from court documents which of the men were flying the plane. A docket available online shows former partner Martinez declined to be the personal representative of Odom’s probate case.

Nearly $600,000 of the $2.9 million borrowed was used to pay off Odom’s mortgage on a property at 2706 Little Rd. in Valrico. Martinez claims he never agreed to this.

In February, Martinez-Odom Law Group filed a claim against the estate for the money owed. Two months later, a personal representative of the estate responded by objecting the claim.

The suit argues the estate was unjustly enriched and requests a payment to be made for the money owed and court fees.

Odom left behind three children: Taylor Leanne Odom of Plant City; and twins Ethan Gene and Madelyn Rhae Odom. Odom’s father, Ralph Odom, is the representative of his estate.

Odom devised his property to his two youngest children. However, his father petitioned to have the property split equally amongst the three children. The petition was filed May 2016.

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USF sues bookstore for ‘dumping’ flyers on Tampa campus

usf-bullsIncessant littering at the University of South Florida’s Tampa campus has forced the school to sue a nearby textbook store.

BookHolders is a chain that sells and rents textbooks to college students, with locations near seven campuses in five states, including USF Tampa. To advertise its business, employees walk through campus distributing flyers and other written materials. This is done without the permission of USF.

The company, owned by Joe Verde, is being sued on five counts: Violation of the Florida litter law, violation of university policy, nuisance, permanent injunction and negligent supervision.

According to the complaint filed Nov. 8, BookHolders is allegedly refusing demands by USF to stop “dumping” flyers in a “negligent manner.”

The school has a policy in place which prohibits unauthorized solicitation: The University of South Florida authorizes the solicitation and/or sale of goods and services by external organizations on its Tampa Campus only through formal written contractual relationships or through authorizing vendors to participate in Bull Market. Commercial solicitation or the sale of goods and services by an external organization on the Tampa Campus is otherwise committed.

USF Tampa also operates its own campus bookstore in partnership with Barnes & Noble.

Flyers are thrown around campus including in classrooms, hallways and other outdoor areas. Oftentimes the distribution interrupts professor’s lectures.

The litter has caused a nuisance for the university as it must pay custodial staff to clean up the mess. In the complaint, USF claims that it has spent over $5,000 cleaning up the flyers left behind by BookHolders employees.

USF demands damages be repaid for the cost of cleanup and is requesting an injunction be placed on the company to further prevent the distribution of flyers.

USF Tampa is on Fowler Avenue and Bruce B. Downs Boulevard. The USF Barnes & Noble is at 4202 E. Fowler Ave. BookHolders is located at 11802 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., adjacent to the campus.

bookholders-flyers

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Victim of DUI crash blames Kahuna’s for negligence in over-serving alcoholic

Sean Campbell
Sean Campbell

Kahuna’s Bar & Grill in St. Petersburg is being taken to court after a drunken customer caused a car accident that broke a woman’s leg.

In the early morning of Oct. 14, 2015, Sean Campbell, 25, got behind the wheel of his car after a night of drinking at the popular bar and grill on Gandy Boulevard in north St. Petersburg.

Campbell, an unemployed resident of St. Petersburg. failed to stop for a red light at the intersection of 4th Street North and 5th Avenue North.

Emily Badillo, 22, was driving westbound on 5th Avenue North. Campbell’s car collided with the front end of Badillo’s vehicle.

Police could smell alcohol on Campbell; his breath tested well over the 0.08 percent limit.

Badillo sustained a broken leg in the crash.

Because Kahuna’s continued serving Campbell after he was blatantly drunk, Badillo is suing the bar for negligence.

The suit claims that Campbell was a longtime patron of Kahuna’s. On several occasions, when it was clear he had too much to drink, bartenders and staff nevertheless continued serving Campbell, even taking shots of liquor with him.

Due to his drunken state, Campbell had previously passed out, fallen face first to the ground, spilled beer on tables, and even vomited on the patio.

A month before the accident, Campbell was arrested for disorderly intoxication after being seen stumbling down Gandy Boulevard. Campbell had left Kahuna’s before being swept up by the Florida Highway Patrol.

Badillo suffered physical and mental pain, medical bills, and loss of income due to the accident.

Campbell’s bond was set at $5,000 at the time of his October 2015 arrest. After pleading guilty in the DUI case, he was sentenced to 18 months in prison. After his two arrests in 2015, Campbell applied for indigence status, claiming he had no job, assets or income. He argued his only source of sustenance was food stamps.

Campbell had received a previous DUI in Washington State.

Kahuna’s, owned by defendant JCPK, whose directors are James C. and Jody Kenrick, is located at 10515 Gandy Blvd. N in St. Petersburg.

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