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County effort to recover costs from Kevin White sex harrassment suit still alive



Hillsborough County is still trying get money out of former Commissioner Kevin White to cover costs from the 2009 sexual harassment lawsuit brought against him by a former aide.

A federal judge on Friday ruled that the county can pursue two out of the three legal arguments it has advanced in an attempt to recoup part of the costs for the judgment and lawyers costs. The ruling was given in response to an argument from White that all three claims should be dismissed.

"The short and simple version is that we asserted three different legal theories in which the county could recover money from Kevin White," said Richard Harrison, a private attorney with the Allen Dell law firm that agreed to take on the recovery effort by the county for free. "Two out of three ain't bad, as Meatloaf once said."

White did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment. His attorney, Michael Laurato, said, "one down, two to go," explaining that he expects to knock down all of the county's arguments before the case concludes.

A federal jury found in 2009 that White fired former aide Alyssa Ogden for refusing his repeated sexual advances. Ogden was awarded a $75,000 and her lawyers recouped slightly more than $200,000 in legal fees. Additionally, the county amassed another more than $200,000 in bills from its own outside lawyers.

An insurance policy covered part of those costs but carried a $350,000 deductible. White has claimed that the policy should have covered his own legal expenses, or about $157,000. The county is trying to recoup part of the deductible, which White has declined to pay, saying he's broke.

State National Insurance Company and Star Insurance Company sued White in an effort to get the courts to clarify whether he qualifies for reimbursement. White countersued to say he should get his costs paid and the county joined the suit to recover money from the former commissioner, who was trounced in a reelection bid last year. White's original trial lawyers have also joined in seeking to get their bills covered.


[Last modified: Friday, March 25, 2011 5:24pm]


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