Saturday, June 16, 2018
News Roundup

Pinellas jail deputies going to court over millions in compensation

Pinellas County's sheriff and his two predecessors will be summoned to court this week for a trial that could cost the county millions of dollars.

It centers on an unlikely issue: lunch breaks.

Attorney Wil Florin says the class action lawsuit, which has worked its way through the court system since 2006, is about much more.

The lawsuit contends that roughly 1,000 deputies who have worked at the Pinellas County Jail since 2004 have been shortchanged because they get paid for eight hours per shift, but work 8.5 hours.

"It's going to be about life inside that jail and how the sheriff can't continue to take the position that these guys are not working the entire time they're in there," Florin said. "It's an environment unlike any other."

The lawsuit was filed in 2006 by a retired detention deputy, Douglas J. Morgan. He said deputies were required to show up for work half an hour before their shifts for a mandatory briefing. He said he and other deputies weren't being paid for that half hour.

The Sheriff's Office has said it does pay deputies for the briefing, but not for their half-hour lunch breaks, according to court records.

Most people probably don't get paid for lunch breaks. But Florin maintains that at the jail, lunch breaks are breaks in name only. Even on break, he said, deputies often have to listen to radios, keep an eye on inmates and be prepared to jump back into the job at any moment.

"There isn't such a thing as a break anytime when you're on the inside," Florin said. "If you go on break, you're not really on break."

Often, he said, "their break consists of somebody bringing their food to their post."

Sheriff Bob Gualtieri declined to speak about the pending lawsuit. The attorney handling the case did not return calls.

The trial, which starts Monday, is expected to last all week and part of the next. It seeks compensation for deputies over a nine-year period that covers all or part of the administrations of Gualtieri, and former sheriffs Jim Coats and Everett Rice.

If the Sheriff's Office wins the case, Pinellas County won't have to make a payout. But if it loses, the county could potentially have to pay millions in lost wages, interest and even adjustments to retirements. Sheriff's deputies currently earn from $41,284 to $67,143 per year, a spokeswoman said. About 750 deputies work at the jail.

The case is a class action lawsuit, and covers all the jail deputies who were affected by the pay policy during the nine-year period. It doesn't cover other employees or supervisors, unless they used to be deputies.

Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge John A. Schaefer initially ruled that for legal reasons, this case did not qualify as a class action suit. However the 2nd District Court of Appeal reversed that decision, clearing the way for trial.

Staff writer Laura C. Morel contributed to this report. Curtis Krueger can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8232. Twitter: @ckruegertimes.

Comments
Rays lose again to Yankees, this time 4-1

Rays lose again to Yankees, this time 4-1

NEW YORK — Kevin Cash was not going to go all Lou Piniella on his Rays, raging and ripping and roaring over their latest mess, a 4-1 Saturday loss to the Yankees that didn't feel that close.Which is too bad because Piniella, the volcanic former...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Lottery resultsNumbers drawn after 9 p.m. are no longer available by our deadlines. For results, please go to tampabay.com/lottery.Pick 2, 3, 4, 5Sun., June 17, midday:xx xxx xxxxe_SRitxxxxxSun., June 17, evening:xx xxx xxxxe_SRitxxxxxFantasy 5Sunday...
Updated: 3 hours ago
They fled Puerto Rico with their possessions, which they lost last week in an apartment fire

They fled Puerto Rico with their possessions, which they lost last week in an apartment fire

RIVERVIEW — It was the most routine of errands, shopping for a cooler and some shorts.Joel Jaca and Arelys Gomez, both 40, had turned an important corner, miles away from hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.They had finally gotten out of their relief hotel...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Peering into the crystal baseball to see what Rays could look like in 2019

Peering into the crystal baseball to see what Rays could look like in 2019

The Rays are still talking, as they should, about playing for something this season. The reality is that almost every move they've made, going back to the end of last season, and in some cases further, has been about 2019 and beyond.Clearing out vete...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Updated: 5 hours ago
Mazzaro’s Italian Market closed after Friday night warehouse fire

Mazzaro’s Italian Market closed after Friday night warehouse fire

ST. PETERSBURG — Mazzaro’s Italian Market will be closed throughout the weekend after a warehouse fire broke out Friday.A St. Petersburg Police officer noticed smoke coming from the market at 22nd Ave. N around midnight Friday, said St. Petersburg F...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Catholic diocese celebrates 50 years in Tampa Bay and forges plan for the future

Catholic diocese celebrates 50 years in Tampa Bay and forges plan for the future

ST. PETERSBURG — At his installation as spiritual leader of Tampa Bay’s Catholics, Bishop Gregory Parkes promised to take time to get to know his people, listen to what they had to say and work to discern a plan for the future.On Sunday, 17 months la...
Updated: 6 hours ago
A fentanyl death. A crackdown on opioid dealers. Will it help?

A fentanyl death. A crackdown on opioid dealers. Will it help?

TAMPA — Loueita Hargens had known for years how her son Bradley Dykes would die. She had seen him cycle through drugs of choice, had lost track of the number of times he’d wound up in the hospital or prison.A recovering alcoholic herself, she cut him...
Updated: 7 hours ago
AP World History course is dropping thousands of years of human events - and critics are furious

AP World History course is dropping thousands of years of human events - and critics are furious

Since 2002, the AP World History course has covered thousands of years of human activity around the planet, starting 10,000 years back. But now the College Board, which owns the Advanced Placement program, wants to cut out most of that history and st...
Updated: 8 hours ago
A woman went to check her corn - and was swallowed by a python

A woman went to check her corn - and was swallowed by a python

For the second time in barely more than a year, an Indonesian villager has been swallowed whole by a python.Wa Tiba, 54, left her home on Muna island to visit her cornfield on Thursday night, according to the Jakarta Post.The field was about a half m...
Updated: 8 hours ago