Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

New Port Richey woman sues over rubber snake prank at hospital

A strange lawsuit is slithering its way through the court system. It involves a doctor, an office employee and one of the region's most famous attorneys.

Oh, and a rubber snake.

• • •

According to court documents, the snake made its fateful appearance on May 26, 2010, on the desk of Ula Peak, a 50-year-old coordinator in the patient administrative services department at Mease Dunedin Hospital. Peak, who lives in New Port Richey, says it was placed there by an emergency room physician, Dr. Gregory Micklow, 42.

Micklow "placed a lifelike rubber snake under documents that were on Plaintiff's work desk," the lawsuit reads. Peak "lifted the papers, saw the snake and, thinking it was real, recoiled in horror by grabbing the desk and forcefully pushing back her chair away from the snake. In pushing her chair away, Plaintiff's neck snapped backwards and forwards. As a result, Plaintiff suffered a neck injury."

In the months after the snake incident, Peak's life crumbled, the suit says: Her injury required surgery, and she said she was demoted and then fired in March 2011 because of her workers' compensation claim.

Peak hired Wil Florin, one of the most well-known attorneys in the Tampa Bay area. Florin, who did not respond to the Times' request for comment, has represented clients such as professional wrestler Hulk Hogan and former University of South Florida football coach Jim Leavitt.

Florin's lawsuit, filed in Pinellas Circuit Court in March, names Micklow, BayCare Health System and Mease Dunedin Hospital as defendants. The suit accuses Micklow of negligence, saying he should have known that Peak "would react to the snake in the manner she did, and thus, her injuries were reasonably foreseeable."

The suit also accuses the hospital and the health system of workers' compensation retaliation. From each of the three entities, Peak is seeking damages of more than $15,000 for things such as disfigurement and scarring, inconvenience, mental anguish, lost wages and diminished earning capacity.

Records show that Micklow's medical license is free of any complaints or disciplinary actions. Efforts to reach him through the phone numbers listed in court documents and other records were not successful. His attorney, Kerry J. Anderson, did not return a call for this story.

Micklow worked at Mease Dunedin as an employee of the doctor group EmCare. Mease spokeswoman Beth Hardy would not comment on the case and said Micklow is no longer working at the hospital. Hospital attorney Kevin D. Johnson declined to comment as well.

Micklow, who is also licensed to practice in Tennessee and Kentucky, is now working at Jennie Stuart Medical Center in Hopkinsville, Ky., as an employee of Align MD, hospital spokesman Jim Goss said. Micklow did not return a message left at the hospital Friday for this story.

When reached by phone Thursday, Peak was abrupt.

"I'm not saying anything," she said, before hanging up.

The case is not yet slated for trial.

Times researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this story. Erin Sullivan can be reached at or (727) 869-6229.

New Port Richey woman sues over rubber snake prank at hospital 10/05/12 [Last modified: Friday, October 5, 2012 10:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Lightning takes defenseman Cal Foote with top pick in draft

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Former Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote said his son Cal lived in the locker room.

    Cal Foote, second from left, is welcomed to the Lightning by GM Steve Yzerman, far left.
  2. It's Rays' turn to pound Orioles pitching (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG - Ah, the fantastic four.

    The Rays smashed the reeling Orioles 15-5 on Friday, scoring a season-high in runs, to climb four games above .500 for the first time since July 1, 2015.

    Rays third baseman Evan Longoria scores on a triple by Logan Morrison during the first inning against the Orioles.
  3. Lightning picks defenseman Cal Foote


    Cal Foote is the son of former Avs defenseman Adam Foote.
  4. Kids today: They don't work summer jobs the way they used to


    WASHINGTON — It was at Oregon's Timberline Lodge, later known as a setting in the horror movie The Shining, where Patrick Doyle earned his first real paycheck.

    Teens Ben Testa, from left, Hannah Waring and Abby McDonough, and Wegmeyer Farms owner Tyler Wegmeyer walk the strawberry rows at the Hamilton, Va., farm in late May.
  5. Jeb Bush back in the hunt for the Marlins, now opposing Derek Jeter


    Associated Press:

    Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has switched sides in pursuit of the Miami Marlins, and he’s trying to beat out former teammate Derek Jeter.