Fernandina Beach Quarterly Litigation Report

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
January 7, 2019

City Attorney Tammi Bach

City Attorney Tammi Bach has provided a status report on litigation in Fernandina Beach during the last quarter of 2018.

I. CASE NAME: City of Fernandina Beach v. Isle De Mai (Case No.: 2014-CA-343) a. DATE FILED: August 5, 2014

CASE SUMMARY: On or about May 1, 2014, the City discovered that Spanish Way East and Spanish Way West, public roads within the Isle De Mai subdivision, are prematurely failing due to being designed and constructed in a negligent manner that has caused the roads to be saturated with ground water which compromises the integrity and functionality of the roads for their intended use.

CASE STATUS AS OF: January 1, 2019
Discovery resumed in September 2017 and is ongoing, with depositions taken in January, March, and in May. The Judge has set a trial date in June 2019. The parties will have a mediation later this year also in June 2019. Jacobs, Scholz & Wyler is the primary firm representing the City in this case, and they are working on their witness lists, including expert witnesses.

CITY COSTS:

The City’s current costs are $41,706.71

II. CASE NAME: Dennis T. Hutto v. City of Fernandina Beach, et al. (2017-CA-17) a. DATE FILED: December 29, 2016

CASE SUMMARY: On December 23, 2014, the Fernandina Beach Police Department arrested Mr. Hutto on charges of hit and run and driving while driver’s license was suspended or revoked. Mr. Hutto’s driver’s license had been permanently revoked by the State of Floridaon unrelated charges prior to his arrest by FBPD in 2014. Mr. Hutto was sentenced to 5 yearsin state prison for driving with a permanently revoked driver’s license. The hit and run chargewas dropped by the state. Mr. Hutto currently resides in Jacksonville, Florida. On December 29, 2016, Mr. Hutto, representing himself (pro se), filed a lawsuit against the City alleging violation of his civil rights because the truck he was driving when he was arrested was towed from the scene. Mr. Hutto claims the City acquired title to his truck in a forfeiture proceeding, but the PD only had his truck towed. The tow business sold the truck for non- payment of storage fees while Mr. Hutto was incarcerated.

Police Chief James Hurley was named individually as a defendant and recently dismissedby the Court based on the City’s Motion to Dismiss Party Defendant. All of the motions for summary judgment were filed on March 27, 2018. On March 28, 2018, the Court entered a Summary Judgment Notice advising that there will not be a hearing on these motions and they will be decide based on the motions and the responses. Plaintiff, Mr.Hutto’s responses to our motions are due on April 10, 2018.

The City’s insurer PGIT and claims administrator, PGCS are handling defense of the lawsuit and have assigned defense counsel in Jacksonville (Quintairos, Prieto et al.)

CASE STATUS AS OF: January 1, 2019
The action has been removed to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Jacksonville Division. Discovery is ongoing.

CITY COSTS:

The City will pay the insurance deductible of $10,000. PGIT pays the City’s defense costs.

III. CASE NAME: Maria Allen et al. v. City of Fernandina Beach & Island Art Incorporated (Case No. 18-CA-000022)

a. DATE FILED: January 12, 2018
CASE SUMMARY: Maria Allen was allegedly injured when she fell on a sidewalk near Island Art Association because she tripped over an electrical cord taped to the City sidewalk whileattending “Dickens on Centre” on or about December 11, 2016.

CASE STATUS AS OF: October 1, 2018
Discovery is ongoing. The Plaintiff, Ms. Allen has requested documents and insurance information from the Amelia Island Visitors and Convention Bureau since the incident occurred during“Dickens on Centre” event. Primary attorney for the City’s defense is Quintairos et al.

CITY COSTS: PGCS $5,000 deductible

IV. CASE NAME: Dennis T. Hutto v. City of Fernandina Beach (Case No.: 2018-CA-253) a. DATE FILED: June 18, 2018

CASE SUMMARY: On December 23, 2014, the Fernandina Beach Police Departmentarrested Mr. Hutto on charges of hit and run and driving while driver’s license was suspended or revoked. Mr. Hutto’s driver’s license had been permanently revoked by the State of Floridaon unrelated charges prior to his arrest by FBPD in 2014. Mr. Hutto was sentenced to 5 yearsin state prison for driving with a permanently revoked driver’s license. The hit and run charge was dropped by the state. Mr. Hutto currently resides in Jacksonville, Florida. In addition to the above pending lawsuit, on June 18, 2017, Mr. Hutto, representing himself (pro se), filed a lawsuit in state court against the City alleging civil theft because the truck he was driving when he was arrested was towed from the scene and subsequently sold by the tow company. The tow business sold the truck for non-payment of storage fees while Mr. Hutto was incarcerated.

CASE STATUS AS OF: January 1, 2019
Primary attorney for the City’s defense is Quintairos et al. The City’s defense attorneys haveattempted to settle this case by offering Mr. Hutto the value of the truck (around $5,000). Mr. Hutto has refused to settle each time an offer has been made

CITY COSTS: PGCS $5,000 deductible

V. CASE NAME: John Angus & Loretta Angus v. Newventure of Jacksonville, Inc. d/b/a High Tech Commercial Cleaning, City of Fernandina Beach, Fernandina Beach Golf Club, and Billy Casper Golf, LLC.(Case No. 16-2017-CA-7406)
a. DATE FILED: December 4, 2017

CASE SUMMARY: On December 5, 2013, plaintiff John Angus was allegedly injured when he slipped and fell in the men’s restroom of the Fernandina Beach Golf Club.

CASE STATUS AS OF: January 1, 2019
Primary attorney for the City’s defense is Quintairos et al. The City’s defense attorneys have filed a motion to dismiss because the City was not served until October 17, 2018, more than 120 days after filing the complaint (Florida Rule 1.070(j)).

CITY COSTS: PGCS $5,000 deductible

VI. SETTLEMENTS:

  1. Constance Bradley & Jack Bradley, Date Noticed: January 9, 2017Case Summary: Ms. Bradley sustained injuries during a fall on Centre Street while attending the Farmers Market. Mediation took place December 21, 2018 and the parties agreed to settle pending City Commission approval for an amount of $35,000.
  2. Peggy Horton, Date Noticed: September 18, 2017
    Case Summary: Ms. Horton sustained injuries in the parking lot of the Fernandina Beach City Golf Club after attending a dinner there. Mediation took place December 21, 2018 and the parties agreed to settle pending City Commission approval for an amount of $35,000.

VII. NOTICES OF CLAIM (NO SUIT FILED):

a. Kimberley and James Becker, Date Noticed: November 15, 2018
Case Summary: Ms. Becker’s attorney sent notice that Ms. Becker was injured falling nearthe Marina Restaurant in downtown and claims the City was negligent.

b. Dario Alderman, Date Noticed: October 29, 2018
Case Summary: Current City employee’s attorney sent notice related to a discrimination complaint.

c. Donna Mitchell, Date Noticed: September 29, 2017
Case Summary: Ms. Mitchell’s attorney sent notice on her behalf for a complaint against the City’s building department for a stop work order.

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One Response to Fernandina Beach Quarterly Litigation Report

  1. Richard Cain says:

    Please stop presenting case summary for 2014-CA-343 identifying Isle de Mai as a party to that lawsuit. Our development is neither a plaintiff nor a defendant in the case. You can of course mention in your discussion that the road defects in the development are the subject of the case … but presenting us as one of the parties is totally incorrect. You ought to identify the engineering firm that is actually the one the City is suing … a firm I might add the City incredibly continues to hire as a stormwater/drainage consultant.

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